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
I was stationed at Det 5. 375 AAWg on Kelly AFB from 76 to 80. My only USAF duty. I was a young bozo back then and wish I had a better head on my shoulders. But MAN did we move patients. My comander Capt Vic Hosman said I was great at my job..and there is nobody that can work 3 birds on the ground at same time…which happened once a week..
But Airman you have absolutely no military bearing. At the time I considered it a compliment. I did receive the usaf good conduct medal. The Pres outstanding unit award with 4 oak leaves….and the ones I am most proud 2 Humanitarian Service Medals for my work with 2 massive international missions which I jumped on board for. Burns to BAMC. Lots have changed …I did grow up ..but I look back at times and shake my head at the bozo out on the flight line no hat. Shades and hair touching my ears and collar. It is a Great Way of Life …if you apply yourself.
“No Military Bearing!” I thought I was the only who received those accolades. Was borned into AirForce,and now we have 3 Active duties family members. I would it again In a heartbeat.
I had opportunity while stationed at Maxwell AFB to fly this bird. Worked in Critical Care ( SICU/MICU/ER) Came in handy while transporting patients during Nam Era. I made Sgt at that time, one of the better assignments
I flew as a medic from 1984 to 1987 at the 2nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Rhein Main AB, Germany. I truly enjoyed my assignment and flew with some of the best people in the Air Force. The C-9 was a smooth, fun aircraft to fly one and I have very fond memories of my time on the C-9.
I fondly remember the C-9A Nightengale while stationed at Andrews AFB from 88-92. I was assigned to the 10th Aeromedical Staging Flight where I did main administrative duties. One of my duties was to meet each flight on the flight line to receive report from the medical staff and to coordinate flights coming in from and going out to the various bases around the country for patient treatment. I have always been proud of the small role I played and have happy memories of the personnel I had the honor to serve with.
Although I never had the pleasure to fly on the C-9, I was able to flight out and back on one of the “Germany” missions flown on the C-141s.
Thank you to all that were part of the fantastic history in whatever roles you played.
2584 was a regular visitor to Buckley ANGB outside Denver, where I was stationed May ’70 to Feb ’74 at Detachment 3, 375th AAWG and in support of Fitzsimmons Army Med Ctr. I know…because my job was manifesting the flights and coordinating the flight line hookups of ground vehicles and aircraft.
Great group of airmen and airwomen. Was involved in many important incidents…..Operation Homecoming, the return of the POWs and the rescue of survivors of the Wichita State Football Team plane crash near Loveland Pass.
As a flight nurse with the USAFR 445 AW/AES out of Wright-Patterson AFB, I spent a two-week annual active duty assignment at Ramstein in the summer of 1994 or ’95. I had the opportunity to fly as an observer in the C-9 on a scheduled medical evacuation down to Incirlik and back making numerous stops along the way….even had the opportunity sit in the jump seat. Coming into Incirlik, we had to abandon our first approach due to a truck on the runway. I recall the pilot asking me to spot aircraft as he pulled out of the pattern for a go-around. To this day, we have a Turkish carpet in our dining room I bought in ‘the alley’ just off Incirlik AFB in our living room that I was able to bring home by storing it in the C-9’s hold for the first part of the journey.
I flew as a med tech for the 57th AES from 79-81. I always say my two biggest regrets in life are that I got out and I gave up my flying assignment.
Thank you for the nurses that put me back together Fort Polk la July 1970
Had experience on Nightingale Space A 1985 good to see private and major working together to give care to injured.
I was an aircraft mechanic with the 435th TAW on the C-9’s stationed at Rhein-Main AB from 1979-1982. There were four stationed at Rhein-Main AB during that time. I was there when the hostages arrived from Iran in 1981 on two of the four C-9’s. The C-9 Nightingale was a beautiful and reliable plane.
I worked on those same acft at R-M in 1980-1986 out of the A/R Shop in 435th FMS…never really had any problems with them to speak of…very good acft. Not much fun doing time changes on the horizontal stab jackscrew, had to use string to tie all your tools to your wrist so as not to drop them down into the vertical stab (ask me how I know…) At least it was a nice view sitting up there on the kneecap!
I was a med tech, 2AES, stationed at RM the same time you were.
I was a flight mechanic on the C-9 at Yokota AB (1991 to 1994) and then again at Scott AFB (1999 to 2003). Flying on the C-9 was the best job I ever had! Very few times did the aircraft break and I didn’t know exactly what was wrong and how to fix the problem. I met so many wonderful people along the way. The mission was amazing and had an impact on so many lives. One night in Japan one of our maintenance guys wife had a baby prematurely. I was the flight mechanic that night we took his new born daughter to Kadena AB to the NICU ward. There were some tense moments onboard that night and the pilots got us there in record time. A normal 2+15 flight took 1+40. About 5 years later, I wasn’t stationed in Japan, but I got a call from the father. He asked if I remembered that night. I said “I remember it like it was yesterday!” He said ” Well, she just started school today!” I was sad to see the C-9 be retired but have so many wonderful memories!
I was stationed at Scott AFB from 1972 to 1976. I was in charge of making sure that the C-9A had all parts they need. It was great working with 375 AAW people and with McDonnel.
And it was great flying with you 1975 to 1984 on the gale and 130’s in turkey
My most cherished memory of my time in the USAF was when I was assigned to the 435th TAW at Rhein-Main Air Base and stood in the crowd and watched as the released 52 American hostages arrived at Rhein-Main and walked off the C-9A Nightingales back to freedom.
I was right there watching them come off the plane. My unit personnel were the AirEvac crew. Stood next to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who was there to welcome some released persons from New York State. Really nice guy.
Do you remember the aircraft number? My father was load master. He recently passed away and I am trying to commemorate the event.
The best & most rewarding job! I was an Aerovac Tech from 1981-1990. I crewed over 5,500 hours on this airframe. Lived a lot of Air Force history on the C-9 and moved onto C130’s in Panama. While at Scott AFB I had the pleasure of flying on the C-9 in Europe in 1984. The people I flew with were family and it was my honor being part of the C-9 family!!
57th AES Scott AFB 82-87 Med Tech and line assigned FI, and like this guy above me, I agree, the best job in the Air Force, and we both had some fun working Special Equipment. Also did a manning assistance TDY to the 2nd in Germany from Oct – Dec 83. The C-9 was a dream to work in. The crews, pilots, flight mechanics and medical crew were the best I ever worked with. Still in touch with dozens of fellow crew members. I’ve seen a few names on here that I either flew with or heard about in Aeroevac “legends”. lol
I have been doing some research on my father Ssgt (at the time) William R. Estes jr, who was given a Air Force Commendation Medal for meritorious service, as a command post technician with the 375th Aeromedical Airlift Wing from 27 September 1967 to 12 December 1968. Though the paperwork is vague at best, i have been able to put a timeline together for his service at that time. Apparently on 10 Aug 68 The first C-9A (67-22584) landed at Scott Air Force Base,
Illinois, piloted by the commander of the Military Airlift
Command, General Howell M. Estes, Jr. (No proven blood relation as of this date).
I am looking for people who can help me understand my fathers involvement with this aircraft that would warrant a Commendation medal. Please assist if you can.
Hello Mark, My father, Col. Kenneth S. Shepard, MD was a or perhaps the principal contributor to the design of the C-9 as a ‘hospital plane’. A pediatrician/neonatologist and flight surgeon, he was at Travis AFB from 1965-1968 and realized the difficulty in medical flights from Vietnam, emergency service and transfer needs for service personnel and their families. He was transferred to Scott AFB in mid 1968 to complete the oversight and delivery of the C-9 during the changes of MAC/SAC as well, and prior to 1970 when he took command of the hospital at Blytheville in 1970. If he were alive today, I’d have been able to ask him about your father too!
I was assigned to 9th AEG based at Clark, AFB from January 1972 to March 1973. I was an RN/MCD on many missions throughout the western pacific. I enjoyed flying on this plane and my female counterparts enjoyed the sign in the lavatory – PUSH TO FLUSH. It beat the C118’s Honey Buckets.
I was paralyzed while attending ATC Sheppard AFB IN 1972. I remember flying in an C9A from Sheppard to Scott in April 1972. Spend about 5 days at Scott AFB medical center and than spent a whole day flying the East Coast until they dropped me off at Andrew AFB. Spent serval days at Malcom Grove Medical Center and was eventfully flown to Middletown, PA and was picked up by a medical escort to the Lebanon VA Hospital near my home and family. I was a stretcher patient and was amazed that I was being transported in a flying hospital. I must have met several crews in my journey home and fondly remember how caring they all were to me. Thank you all for getting me home safely.
I was a medical crew member on the C9A with the 57th AES out of Scott AFB from 1978 to ’86 with a couple years out for a remote assignment. I ended up with just under 5000 hours, with many of them on 584. I loved these aircraft and can still run the pre-flight safety check in my head.
I was stationed at Scott from March 1969 to Aug 1972. 1st Aeromedical Evacuation hospital. When I arrived the hospital was being commanded by reserves. Over time the hospital was commanded by regular enlisted personnel. The C-9 was a daily occurrence as we transported patients by bus to the flight line. Carrying the wounded on litters up the ramp of the C-9. I am now 70 and am amazed as I think back about the numbers of wounded we carried onto the C-9. Wish I could get into contact with some of the guys and nurses I worked with all those years.
I was an aeromedical evacuation clerk at 121 in Seoul, SK. Tail #s 88932 and 88933 I remember well! I served in Korea from 88-92; I had a blast!
I chose to fly the C-9 after graduating from UPT in 1981. I enjoyed the mission AND the airplane so much. Scott AFB was a great place to start a family; great mission, great airplane, great fellow pilots and great commanders. What memories!
my father was the senior project engineer for this aircraft and its design at the douglas facility in long beach. My mother was a registered nurse working at hoag hospital in newport beach. I remember my parents talking about the aircraft and remembering my mothers input on what the aircraft needed to take care of our wounded enroute back home etc. Im looking at some of the pictures of the aircraft my dad left me right now. its a beautiful aircraft and all should be proud of its service
In May of 1984 my son was injured at Fort Bragg when a white phosphorous mortor round exploded in an armored personnel carrier. He was badly burned and was transported from the NC Burn Center on a C-9 to Brooke AMC at Fort Sam Houston.I was allowed to accompany him. The crew was extremely courteous to me. I wish that I had noted the crew member’s names. One of the pilot’s was a Lt. Siler. Since my son was critically ill, I was very concerned and didn’t think to get the names of the crew who were so helpful to us. The plane did one stop at Alexandria LA to pick up an elderly veteran. I would like to thank those crew members so if any of you are reading this, I appreciate your thoughtfulness.
I was at Fort Sam Houston TX when I got a hop on a C-9 to Fort Gordon Ga (Bush Field). I called my wife to meet me there, that it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. Left Kelly AFB at 1000 hrs. Arrived at destination at 2000 hrs. Stops in Galveston, Keesler, Birmingham, Redstone, Dobbins, Patrick, then to Augusta. The wife though we had vanished but I enjoyed the flight. That was in 1984 but I vividly recall that lengthy flight though my wife didn’t enjoy the wait. The C9 is a beautifil plane and I am glad that I got to ride on one before they were mothballed.
My experience was somewhat like yours 1986 had to get back to fort Sam using SW Airlines but my bike was still there chained to a tree.
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.
I flew C-9’s at Scott AFB from 1974-1978, 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.
Wow. There’s a name from the past. Was just playing around looking at C-9A info on google. Just scrolled down this list and saw your name. Hope life has been good to you.
Flew C-9A at Clark AB, Philippines Dec 1975 thru March 1977.
Then at Scott AFB, Illinois March 1977 thru August 1980.
Eastern Airlines October 1980 thru March 1989
United Airlines July 1989 thru February 2017 retiring at age 65.
I remember Glenn Shellhouse! We probably flew together. I was a pilot at Scott from 1972 to 1977. Awesome airplane. I was a Line IP (training the mission, not the flying), and worked in the command post (while flying!) the last two years or so. We flew into to every AF, Navy and Army base in the US with a runway, many large commercial airports (LAX, JFK, ORD, etc), and many small civilian fields (5000 foot runways typical). I had a friend a few years ago that flew DC-9’s for an airline, and couldn’t believe some things we did. One not so normal flight was from Travis AFB (northern CA) to Hickham AFB, Hawaii. A real stretch for that airplane. We had to wait several days at Travis for better winds aloft. For sure, even after many more, it my best assignment in the Air Force. I also married an AF nurse, now married 47 years!
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.
I was on a flight that ended up like the milk run. Capodichino Naples, Italy, to Northern Italy, then somewhere I think Germany, back to italy, then Libya Africa, then Landstuhl. Mom and I we civilians on a hop.
Can’t find anything on that flight. Nurses were awesome to me. I was a 9 y/o navy brat with a navy mom who was English. Was a beautiful and very long flight.
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.
I was an Aeromedical Evacuation Technician stationed at Scott AFB in Illinois in 1978 and 1979. I then had the pleasure of being stationed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines from 1979 to 1982 and from 1984 to 1988. I was a Medic on the C-9A in both locations and knew Bill Lloyd and Roger Bennett. I miss those days! May God Bless all of my Air Force friends and associates.
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.
ROY MILLS DOUGLAS REP AT SCOTT 73/76
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.
Just stumbled on this site, looking for something else related to the Nightengale. I flew on the aircraft from Jan 73 to Jan 75 on active duty and then from Jan 75 to Dec 79 over at the 932nd. Have a total of 3,484 hrs. as Med Tech, Flight Instructor and Flight Examiner. Like Jim Hopkins I participated in Op. Home Coming and had the honor of having Gen. Chappy James, as an escort, on the first of the “home coming” flights out of Scott. I flew the 3rd Tech position on that Flt. It was memorable. The Generals golf clubs, the champagne, at alt (no the crew did not take part of that), the crowd at Gen Aviation Parking in Knoxville TN. at what I remember to be around Mid Night, being a bit down over what I thought would be a small crowd, boy was I surprised! As it was at every stop we made bringing the POW’s home. The missions to Gitmo, pulling Alert, diverting, on regular missions, to go after an Urgent, extending crew duty time to do so. Flying all over this great country. RON and seeing D.C., Denver, San Francisco, et al. ALL OF IT!!! I moved on to do other things in my civilian life and I’ve had a successful and fulfilling career, now retired. However, I can say, without reservation, that I have never experienced a relationship with a more dedicated and professional group of people before, or since.
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!
James I remember you, I was in the 1st class at long Beach, Scott AFB, Il 1968-71
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
Long time Greg… I also remember all those hours on 22583, 584, & 585. So long ago, They always got everyone home safe even with the Typhoons… 1500hrs on military airframes, then 2+ million frequent flyer miles, always felt better being a crewmember then a passenger
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 an acft mech on acft 10874 in 74-75. A few stories myself, loved my acft.
Hi Klem! What did you do after Airevac? I’d love to get a copy of your memoir when it’s done.
I was a jet engine mechanic from 92-96 and enjoyed working with this outstanding aircraft while stationed at Scott AFB.
Loved the engine runs in the middle of the night, officers housing was not far away, I bet they hated it.
I loved the C9 Medevac. Passenger Service Specialist, Rhein Main Air Base, Nov. 1971-Nov. 1973.
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.