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[1975.024.001] Aircraft - 'Cessna OE-1 Bird Dog Acquired'
O-1 on Display
Cessna OE-1 Bird Dog Acquired
Accession Number 1975.024.001
Accession Date 01/06/1975
Creator
Creator Creator Role
Manufacturer
Object Desciption Navy acquired 97 Cessna O-1C spotter planes for USMC use in 1951. Served through Korea and Vietnam. In April 1975, during the Saigon evacuation, RVNAF Major Bung-Ly loaded his family into an OE-1, took off from Con Son Island and spotted USS Midway (CVA 41). After dropping a hand written message Midway cleared its flight deck and Bung-Ly landed aboard, his aircraft now displayed at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
Object Notes Of all of the aircraft on display in the museum, few have as inspiring a background as the OE-1/O-1 Bird Dog. During the evacuation of all United States military forces from Saigon in 1975, South Vietnamese Air Force major Bung-Ly took off from Con Son Island in the museum's aircraft with his wife and five children crammed in the small cabin. With enough gas to remain in the air for only one more hour, the pilot spotted the aircraft carrier Midway (CVA 41) and by means of a dropped note requested permission to land on board. The ship's commanding officer ordered the deck to be cleared and brought a Vietnamese interpreter to the island to communicate with the pilot by radio. Without the benefit of a tailhook or barrier, the pilot made a slow approach to a successful landing despite the fact that he had never seen an aircraft carrier before let alone landed on one. Inspired by the event, the Midway crew adopted the pilot and his family, establishing a fund to help them settle in the United States.

Shortly after the landing, Midway put into Guam to offload aircraft that had landed on board during the evacuation. Captain Joe Cheshire, SC, was serving as Commanding Officer of the Naval Supply Depot on the island and, having previously served as the Supply Officer at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, he was familiar with the Naval Aviation Museum. Cheshire telephoned museum director Captain Grover Walker, USN (Ret.) to gauge his interest in acquiring the aircraft. Using his shipment authority, Cheshire had the plane shipped to Mobile, Alabama, where it was received by the museum and placed on display, where it has been visited by Bung-Ly and his family.
Notes The Cessna OE-1/0-1 Bird Dog's combat service began in the Korean War where it served in a scouting role for Army and Marine units, followed by active utilization in the Vietnam conflict as a forward air control aircraft. As late as 1968, pilots of O-1s patrolled over the Vietnam jungles in search of targets, marked them with signal rockets, and directed air strikes by tactical aircraft. The aircraft's slow speed proved valuable in observation missions along friendly convoy routes while in contact with ground units to report location of enemy ambushes and direct air strikes against them. Drawbacks in the O-1, including lack of armor protection, no self-sealing fuel tanks, and reduced carrying capacity of rockets, resulted in their replacement by the Cessna O-2 and North American OV-10A and eventual assignment to the South Vietnamese Air Force.

Specifications

Manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft Company
Dimensions: Length: 25 ft., 9 in.; Height: 7 ft., 3 in.; Wingspan: 36 ft.
Weights: Empty: 1,614 lb.; Gross: 2,400 lb.
Power Plant: One 213 horsepower Continental C-470-11 engine
Performance: Maximum Speed: 151 M.P.H. at sea level; Service ceiling: 18,500 ft.; Range: 530 miles
Crew: Pilot and observer
Multimedia
O-1 Landing on Midway
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