C-9A/C Nightingale

Serial Number: 67-22584

The C-9A, known as the Nightingale, was developed to fill the need for an aeromedical evacuation (medevac) aircraft. The Air Force purchased 20 C-9As to replace older propeller-driven medevac planes.

This plane, serial number 67-22584, was the first C-9A delivered to the Military Airlift Command in 1968 and was retired from the Air Mobility Command (AMC) in August 2005 after 37 years of outstanding service. It was delivered by a crew from the 932nd Airlift Wing Stationed at Scott AFB, Illinois.


The C-9A Nightingale is a modified version of the McDonnell Douglas DC-9. It’s the only aircraft in the inventory specifically designed for the movement of litter and ambulatory patients. The C-9A’s airlift capability to carry 40 litter patients or 40 ambulatory and four litter patients, or combinations of those, provides the flexibility for AMC’s worldwide aeromedical evacuation role.

In addition to speed, quiet, and comfort for patients, the aircraft has many special features for the care of patients:

  • Hydraulically operated folding ramp, which allows for efficient loading and unloading of litter patients and special medical equipment
  • Ceiling receptacles for securing intravenous bottles
  • Special care area with a separate ventilation system for patients requiring isolation or intensive care
  • Eleven vacuum and therapeutic oxygen outlets positioned in sidewall service panels at litter tier locations
  • A 28 VDC outlet located in the special care area. Twenty-two 115 VAC-60 hertz electrical outlets, located throughout the cabin, permit the use of cardiac monitors, respirators, incubators, and infusion pumps at any location within the cabin.
  • Medical refrigerator for preserving whole blood and biological drugs
  • Medical supply work area with sink, medicine storage section and work table, fore and aft galleys, and lavatories
  • Aft-facing commercial airline seats for ambulatory patients
  • Medical crew director’s station with desk, communication panel, and a control panel to monitor cabin temperature, therapeutic oxygen, and vacuum systems
  • Auxiliary power unit that provides electrical power for uninterrupted cabin air conditioning, quick servicing during en route stops, and self-starting for the twin engines


  • Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas
  • First Flight: 1968
  • Retired: September 2005
  • Crew: Pilot, co-pilot, flight mechanic, two flight nurses, and three aeromedical technicians
  • Payload: 30-40 stretcher patients or 40 ambulatory patients
  • Length: 119 ft 4 in
  • Wingspan: 93 ft 5 in
  • Height: 27 ft 6 in
  • Empty Weight: 57,068 lbs
  • Loaded Weight: 120,747 lbs
  • Powerplant: 2x Pratt & Whitney JT-8D-9 turbofans
  • Maximum Speed: 562 mph
  • Cruise Speed: 504 mph
  • Range: 2,063 mi
  • Service Ceiling: 33,400 ft
Assignment History

The assignment history for the Air Mobility Command Museum's C-9A/C Nightingale, serial number 67-22584:

Date Location
Aug 1968 to 375th Aeromedical Airlift Wing (MAC), Scott AFB, Illinois
Jun 1984 to 374th Tactical Airlift Wing (MAC), Clark AB, Philippines
Jun 1989 to 375th Aeromedical Airlift Wing (MAC), Scott AFB, Illinois
Sep 1991 to 435th Airlift Wing, Rhein-Main AB, Germany
Aug 1992 to 375th Airlift Wing, Scott AFB, Illinois
Dec 2003 to 932nd Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve, Scott AFB, Illinois
Aug 2005 to Air Mobility Command Museum, Dover AFB, Delaware, for display


  • Never got to fly one of these as a patient, but I did fly one Space-A from Keesler to Eglin back in the mid-1990s. Those of you familiar with that route will recall that one went clockwise, and another counterclockwise. I needed to be on the counterclockwise one for a direct flight. Guess which one I got? The clockwise one. I got to spend a whole day riding the entire loop, which went from Keesler, to Kelly, to Scott, then to somewhere in Georgia, and only then to Eglin before going back to Keesler. Instead of a 45-minute flight, I was on that ride for a good 8 hours. It was a whole lot more comfortable than civilian DC-9/MD80s, though, even if you were sitting in the back facing the engines.

  • I had the honor of flying as a Medical Crew Member on these marvelous aircraft the C9-A Nightingales. I flew out of Scott AFB, IL 1980-1985. Those years were the highlight of my 30 year Air Force career. If you were a Medical Specialist, it was the best job in the Air Force. To this day I am still friends with some of my fellow crew members. God Bless them all. It was a sad day when the C9-A’s were retired and most of them were sent to the boneyard to die.

  • My dad was senior ptoject engineer for McDonnel in the 60s and early 70s at Long Beach.

  • Glenn Shellhouse

    I flew C-9’s at Scott AFB from 1974-19178, eventually as an IP. Asked for the aircraft out of UPT was fortunate enough to get it as a first assignment. The pilots, medical crews and flight mechanics were wonderful people to work with and extremely professional–I thoroughly enjoyed the assignment.

  • The C-9A was a great aeromedical evacuation aircraft. I first qualified on it late summer 1969 while assigned to the 11th AAS at Scott AFB, Illinois. In the summer of 1970 I arrived at Rhein-Main AB, W. Germany, assigned to the 2nd AEGp, and would qualify on the C-9A again mid-summer 1972.

  • Flew Air Eval (enlisted) out of Viet Nam 65-66 (on C-118s and C-130s); As FN, FI, FE out of Scott 77-80, on C-9’s – have hours in 17 different tail numbers and was OIC out of Incirlik Turkey on 130s 81-82.
    All great planes, hopefully did good for thousands of patients, wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Great people to work with everywhere.

  • I worked on this as a US Air force sheet metal specialist 84 to 85 while stationed at Clark, it sat on the ramp a stone’s throw from are shop. Good times they were

  • I was a medic on the C-9A from ’89 to ’91 out of Scott AFB, IL. I had just over 2,000 hours the airframe as “backend crew.” Best time ever taking care of our members from all of the services. I remember them allowing me to fly the plane at 30k feet while under “autopilot” …good times indeed. I’d do it all over again….

  • This was an amazing time between April 1980 and April 1984. I was 19 years old and arriving to Clark airbase in the Philippines very confused but found many friends that have become long life time Aerovac comrades. Bill Lloyd, Roy campbell, Steve Davis, Roger Bennett, MSgt Hussy, Wayne Everingham and so many others became the core of my life early in the Air Force. It was just friendship that propelled me through the rest of my Air Force career eventually flying out of Incerlik A.B. turkey and Germany memories that will last a lifetime.

  • Gamalier Marquez

    Gamalier Marquez, I was a Aeromedical Tec., in this state of the art aircraft during the 90’s. I learned so much from my fellows airmen. Eventually I became a nurse, MSN. The experience that I obtained in the C9/A Nightingale helped to reach my dream on a medical career. May God bless all the Aeromedical Evac. crews from the USAF.

    • I was with the 11th AASQ At Scott. Feb 68 to Feb 69. I trained for the Nightingale but got out of AF in Feb 69 prior to full implementation of DC9. I enjoyed my 8 years as a medic. Later joined MA National Guard but no medic spot available. I was assigned to a legal clerk slot. Hope all is well.


    Remembering the very cold Scott AFB ramp while you guys were changing an APU. Nose drippings clean around our ears… the BEST TO ALL OF YOU! It’s still a great aircraft, and I remember “The Sheriff of Shiloh.”

  • Hello all, I was stationed at Scott (8/76-6/80) right after UPT (class 8106). I asked for the C-9 and was fortunate to get it. I looked for a familiar name above but didn’t recognize any. Oh well, I hope you have all done well.

  • I flew on the C-9A from 1973-1976 as a Med Tech. accumulated over 2000 hrs. My most memorable flight was “Operation Homecoming”. someone mention flying Supreme Court Justice, William O Douglas. I was on that flight. I have also seen this bird fly at 40,000 ft. It was a flight out of Puerto Rico to Andrews.

  • Edward C. Burke

    Hi Klem
    I was the Flt. Mechanic on the Flight to pick-up William O’Douglas in Nassau is that the mission you were talking about after we had gone to Homestead earlier than same day. We went over crew duty hours a little that day.

  • I was at Scott AFB from ’78 til ’83, worked in the Med Ctr. Early on I was able to spend a few nights in ASF and on several Ambus runs to the flight line to assist with patient transfers. That was an adventure for me, plus a few hops to Andrews over the years.

  • USAF Hospital Dyess- (1976-80) .. we got to load many pts aboard this aircraft. Great crew to work with.

  • I spent quite a few days in the air evac system as a patient going to and from surgeries for my injuries. I loved flying on these aircraft. The crews and medical personnel were top notch. You could alsways count on great care while in the air. God bless these men and women. They made these trips so much easier! Thanks!

  • Clarence Langston

    James I remember you, I was in the 1st class at long Beach, Scott AFB, Il 1968-71

  • Clarence Langston

    I was in the 1st class for the C9A at McDonnell-Douglas factory at Long Beach Ca, was a Flight Mechanic from 1968-1971, good bird to fly on with great people, (Scott AFB, IL)

  • The best job I ever had AeroMed Teck at Clark from 86 thru 89 then to Yokota AFB JP 89 thru 91 Many a hour/mission on the C9, this one
    especially . Really want to come up and walk thru her one more time

  • Larry "Klem" Klementowski

    Great airplane to fly, and great mission. I was a pilot / aircraft commander / command post duty officer at Scott AFB from 1972 to 1977. Wish I could have stayed longer. A fantastic variety of missions, both from the flying standpoint and patient standpoint, e.g. Operation Homecoming, virtually all military bases in the lower 48 with a runway over 4500 feet, many major commercial airports (LAX, LFK, ORD, BOS, etc.), and then maybe a small uncontrolled airport (VFR only below 10K feet) in the middle of a Nebraska cornfield. Picked up a very sick Supreme Court Justice in the middle of the night, and many others. Oh yeah, married an Air Force Nurse, too! I AM writing up many of my adventures; a collection of short stories.

  • I was a jet engine mechanic from 92-96 and enjoyed working with this outstanding aircraft while stationed at Scott AFB.

  • I loved the C9 Medevac. Passenger Service Specialist, Rhein Main Air Base, Nov. 1971-Nov. 1973.

  • James M. Garris Jr.

    I was a Flight Mechanic on this wonderful machine from day one until 1975, logging more than 5000 hours! Went to the Long Beach factory for training in 1968. I loved this reliable, tough and yes classy aircraft and all the great people I worked with to accomplish the mission!

  • I miss flying on these. I was in the 375th formation when we retired this exact bird and gave it to the 932nd in 2003. Best time in my 22 year Air Force experience was flying. “MackDaddy”

  • I was a crew chief on the C-9 at Rhein Main AB from 1987-90. Terrific aircraft and easy to work on. I check out the museum display every time I go visit.

  • My mom and I was a passenger aboard one in 1974. From Randolph to Scott to Luke then finally Nellis AFB. I was 14 and just had open heart surgery at Wilford Hall.

  • I was a Medical Tech Instructor at Scott AFB, 57th AES from 1985 until 1990. Over 2,500 hrs. Best aircraft. Great memories.

  • I flew on these DC9s from 74-76 in Rhein Main AFB Germany. BEST PLANE EVER!! The modifications for patients were incredible… couldn’t do better in an ICU !
    Miss being part of the flight crew !!!

  • Michael,
    Which years did you serve as a Flt. Mech? I was a Flt Mech from 1981-1985
    Kevin Elizondo

  • The max ceiling was 37,000 ft. I still have my T.O.

  • Michael Milligan

    Every time I look at the pictures of these I get a tear in my eye. What a great job I had as a flt mech out of Scott AFB! Over 2800 hrs in these. I wish I could go back and do it all over again. Great mission, great crews!

    • I have flown many hours on this aircraft as an Aeromedical Technician. Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Hawaii, and throughout the United States. Being attached to a Reserve unit we thought it was odd to change colors of our flight suits from OD green to blue, but the experiences acquired flying a hospital equipped aircraft with patients will last in my memory and pictures forever.

    • Beverly Gafford

      Missions on the C9 were always an adventure. I could write a book about some of them. Sometimes sad; sometimes hilarious, but always an adventure

    • Your name sounds familiar. When were you at Scott?

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