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Museum Exhibition - Flying the Freedom Birds: Airlines and the Vietnam War

New Exhibition Based on Extensive Interviews Provides Insight into the Experience of Serving Aboard the Commercial Airliners that Flew Thousands of Troops to and from Vietnam

Freedom Bird. For the Vietnam generation of U.S. military veterans, this phrase meant only one thing; the aircraft that brought them home at the end of their tours. However, these were not military aircraft, but commercial airliners under contract by the U.S. Air Force Military Airlift Command (MAC) and served by civilian crews and flight attendants. The airliners were not just used to bring the soldiers home, but to fly them into the war zone as well. During the course of the war, thousands of flights criss-crossed the Pacific Ocean. For military personnel, it was a deeply emotional journey in both directions.

These flights were also a powerful and moving experience for a generation of young women who served aboard these aircraft as flight attendants. These women allayed the fears of soldiers heading to war and offered support and reassurance to those headed home. Although these women were an integral part of the Vietnam War experience, their contributions are largely unknown outside of the veteran community. This exhibition, based on extensive interviews with the key participants of the airlift operations, includes historic material and the personal effects of those who served and traveled aboard the Freedom Birds.

Visit www.sfomuseum.org/exhibitions/flying-freedom-birds for more information about the exhibition.


Flying the Freedom Birds: Airlines and the Vietnam War is located pre-security in the Aviation Museum and Library in the International Terminal of San Francisco International Airport. This exhibition is on view to all Airport visitors from September 28, 2019, to June 21, 2020. There is no charge to view the exhibition.