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#1 Rick Lippincott  2014-05-15 14:49
In late 1983, while assigned to the 60th MAW at Travis AFB, 0446 came in low on final approach to Shemya (now Eareckson) AFB, Alaska. The airplane clipped the embankment at the end of the runway, and bounced, finally coming to rest on the runway.

Although there were no fatalities to the crew, damage to the airplane was significant. The two aft MLG bogies were shorn from the airplane, one remained on the embankment, the other was pushed up inside the fuselage. The airplane’s keel was broken, along with two of the four fuselage mainframes.

After an evaluation and careful consideration, the Military Airlift Command determined that 0446 could be rebuilt. This was due in part to the recent restart of C-5 production by the company then known as Lockheed Georgia (now Lockheed Martin), which meant that the major structural components for the repair would be available. Temporary repairs were made to the airplane, and in early 1984 0446 departed Shemya for a flight to Marietta, GA. By this time, the airplane had been christened the “Phoenix II,” inspired by the movie “The Flight of the Phoenix.”

Due to the damage to the airplane, 0446 could not be pressurized for the flight to Georgia. The flight crew members were on oxygen for the duration, and the airplane was escorted by tankers and rescue aircraft for the entire trip.

On arrival at Lockheed, a special repair team of engineers and cross-disciplin e workers was assembled for the repair effort. There was a detailed engineering analysis of the damage, and extensive repair/rebuild plans drawn up. The team became known as the “Phoenix II Revival Crew.”

Work in earnest began in late 1985. The crew installed temporary bracing and removed damaged or structurally unsound sections of 0446 and over the following months installed the replacement sections. As the C-5 parts in production at that time were for the C-5B model, some of the replacement structure was actually to C-5B configuration. Although the differences were subtle, 0446 emerged as a hybrid of the C-5A and C-5B airplanes. For example, the main landing gear was upgraded to C-5B configuration, and the aft fuselage underside includes a “bilge hatch” access entry normally found only on C-5B or C-5C airplanes.

When structural repairs to the fuselage were finished, 0446 underwent wing modification and radar upgrade. The airplane was repainted from grey/white to European 1 markings during the process (which wiped out the “Phoenix II” name that had been near the crew entry hatch).

In 1987, 0446 returned to service with an assignment to the 433rd Airlift Wing at what was then Kelly (now Lackland) AFB. 70-0446 remained in service with the 433rd until transfer to AMARC in 2011.

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