In a special flight line ceremony attended by approximately 1,000 people, the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Wing, now the 375th Air Mobility Wing, welcomed its first three Gates Learjet C-121A aircraft.
The tail numbers were 84-0063, 84-0064, and 84-0065.
The event marked the entry of the first C-21A into the Air Force’s inventory as well as the transition from the Rockwell CT-39A Sabreliner, which had performed faithfully for over 23 years.
Just a few hours earlier, CT-39A Sabreliner #61-0658 had departed Scott AFB on the last scheduled Scott mission, taking Gen. Thomas M. Ryan, Jr., Military Airlift Command commander, and his party to St. Louis International Airport to fly in the three new jets.
The new aircraft arrived with a touch of class as Ryan quietly landed the first C-21A to coincide with the narrator’s remarks. Maj. William J. Gen Mall, Jr., 23rd Air Force commander, and Col. John T. Massingale, 375th AAW commander, followed. In synchronized movements, the commanders taxied the C-21As to the reviewing stand, popped open the doors, and descended the steps.
Gen. Ryan characterized the moment as initiating a new era for MAC’s operational support airlift missions by enhancing rapid airlift support and pilot training. Afterwards, Lt. Col. Donald L. Buck, 1401st Military Airlift Squadron commander, stepped forward to receive the aircraft forms from Gen. Ryan, symbolizing the delivery and acceptance of the 375th AAW’s first C-21As. The impressive ceremony concluded with Mrs. Penny Ryan christening aircraft #84-0063.
Currently, the 11 C-21A aircraft at Scott AFB are operated by the 457th and 458th Airlift Squadrons.
Special thanks to Betty R. Kennedy, 375th AAW historian in 1984, for her contemporary account of the C-21A arrival ceremony at SAFB.