Starting as an in-house project (DHC-4) to design a short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft for the military and airlines, the Caribou was influenced by a U. S. Army requirement for a tactical STOL aircraft capable of carrying a 6,000-pound payload. Army aircraft were originally identified as AC-1 and then as CV-2, but with the transfer of the aircraft to the U.S. Air Force in 1966 (Operation “Red Leaf”), the designation became C-7A.
The STOL capabilities for the Caribou are impressive. The plane is designed to clear a 50-foot obstacle in a distance of 1,040 feet with no wind. With a 20 mph head wind, the distance needed is 460 feet. Landing over a 50 foot obstacle is accomplished in 590 feet, shortened to 300 feet with a 10 mph head wind. The aircraft also has the ability to use extremely rough and unimproved fields due to the strong landing gear system.
(photo courtesy Scott Kordes)
Tail Number: 63-9719
The last active-duty Caribou in the Department of Defense inventory, this aircraft was donated to the museum on 20 May 1991 and was flown to the museum under its own power. It was presented by the Directorate of Flight Operations, U. S. Army Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, and was crewed by retired Chief Warrant Officers Jim White and La Rue Wisener and retired Staff Sergeant Douglas Paddock.
Our C-7 Caribou is open and ready for your inspection. Enter through the side door, sit where the jumpers sat, look in the back where jeeps and equipment rolled up and down the ramp, sit in the pilot's seat, look around the cockpit, check your instruments and radios which, by the way, are still tuned to the last frequencies the pilots used when they landed this famous aircraft in Amarillo in 1991. Now, buckle your seat belt, grab the checklist and get ready to start your memories.
Click below to see a 23-minute US Air Force - C7A Caribou Aircraft Operations Training Film that was made in 1969, then come to the Texas Air & Space Museum, climb aboard this famous aircraft and spend a few minutes surrounded by history.
Additional military and civilian aircraft may be seen at the Texas Air & Space Museum