1968 Kham Duc C-130 shootdown
A C-130B similar to the shot down aircraft at Ton Son Nuht AB in 1969
|Date||May 12, 1968|
|Summary||Aircraft shot down by North Vietnamese Army|
|Site||Kham Duc, South Vietnam|
|Aircraft type||Lockheed C-130B Hercules|
|Operator||United States Air Force|
The 1968 Kham Duc C-130 shootdown was the loss of a United States Air Force Lockheed C-130B Hercules aircraft during the Battle of Kham Duc on May 12, 1968. All 155 people on board were killed. At the time, it was the deadliest aircraft crash in history.
The aircraft, commanded by Major Bernard L. Butcher, was participating in the evacuation of South Vietnamese civilians from the Kham Duc campsite. The C-130 approached the Kham Duc airstrip from the south and managed to land despite taking hits from opposing North Vietnamese forces. As soon as it landed, approximately 149 South Vietnamese rushed onto the aircraft. Once the aircraft was full, Major Butcher proceeded to take off in a northward direction, unaware that the North Vietnamese were concentrated in that area. According to eyewitness reports, the aircraft, under intense enemy mortar and small-arms fire, shook violently out of control, crashed into a nearby ravine less than a mile from the end of the airstrip, and burned, killing all of the South Vietnamese evacuees and the aircraft's crew of six.
With 155 fatalities, this incident, along with the civilian crash of Viasa Flight 742 in Venezuela the following year, held the highest death toll of any aircraft crash, commercial or military, in the history of aviation. That remained so until the mid-air collision of All Nippon Airways Flight 58 and a fighter jet over Japan in 1971, killing 162. To date, the Kham Duc crash, along with the crash of a USAF Lockheed C-5 Galaxy aircraft seven years later, remain, jointly, the deadliest aviation accidents/incidents on Vietnamese soil.