The History of Air America, 2nd edition

The CAT / Air America Archive

History of Aviation Collection


Special Collections Department

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Paul Oelkrug CA,
Coordinator for Special Collections

The Aircraft of Air America, 5th edition of 4 March 2013, by Dr. Joe F. Leeker

Air America Logo

The following database is the result of many years of research, especially done at the Air America Archives at McDermott Library, University of Texas at Dallas. All information contained in the sections entitled "Types of missions flown", "Statistics", and "Service history" as well as the photos are exclusively based on archival material, mostly preserved at the Air America Archives. Additional information came from the USAF Aircraft Assignment Records preserved at the USAF Historical Research Agency at Maxwell AFB, the records of the Director General of Civil Aviation of the Republic of China at Taipei, and other archives. The section entitled "fate" is mostly based on material published in various booklets and magazines whose information may be based on observation. This section is not considered to be complete. The references given in the section "Service history" indicate the exact location of the document within the Air America Archives, e.g. UTD/CIA/B51F12 meaning: UTD, McDermott Library, Air America Archives / CIA Corporate Records / Box 51, Folder 12. Abbreviations like ACA-22 or AVH-6 indicate the no. of the microfilm reel preserved at the AFHRA. Other abbreviations used may be looked up in the file "Abbreviations".

This database is built up by aircraft types, and wherever appropriate, a file has three sections: "Types of missions flown", "Statistics", and "The individual aircraft histories". The following files can be consulted:

General information

Abbreviations Acknowledgments Bibliography


Files of individual aircraft types


The Jets C-130 Hercules L-1049H Super Constellation
Douglas DC-6s  Douglas C-54s Boeing B-17s
Curtiss C-46s Fairchild C-123s DHC Caribous
Douglas C-47s PBY-5A Catalinas DHC-6 Twin Otters
Douglas B-26s / On Marks CH-47C Chinook CH-54 Skycrane
G-21A Goose Beech / Volpar Turbo Beech 18 Aero Commander
Sikorsky S-58Ts Sikorsky UH-34Ds (1st series) Sikorsky UH-34Ds (2nd series)
Sikorsky H-19A (S-55) DHC-3 Otter Beech Barons
Piper Apaches Dornier Do-28s PC-6C Porters
DHC-2 Beaver Helio Twin Courier Cessna U-17s
Cessna O-1s Helio Couriers Wren 460
North American T-28s Bell 205 / UH-1D and UH-1H Bell 204Bs
Hughes 500s Bell 47s  


Aircraft of the Khmer Air Force

As a tribute to Air America’s efforts in Phnom Penh, the following files describe the aircraft of the Khmer Air Force, as they appear in the reports of LMAT and Air America’s Phnom Penh Station preserved at the Air America Archives:

Khmer Air Force C-54 Khmer Air Force C-123Ks Khmer Air Force C-47s
Khmer Air Force U-1As  Khmer Air Force T-37s Khmer Air Force T-28s
Khmer Air Force AU-24s Khmer Air Force U-17s Khmer Air Force T-41s
Khmer Air Force O-1s Khmer Air Force UH-1Hs  


Aircraft of the Royal Lao Air Force

As a tribute to Air America’s Maintenance Department at Udorn, Thailand, where most aircraft of the Royal Lao Air Force (RLAF) were maintained, the following files describe the aircraft of the RLAF as well as those used by the Ravens, as they appear in Air America’s lists of “Aircraft Maintained” and in other material preserved at the Air America Archives:

RLAF C-123s
RLAF C-46s
RLAF C-47s
RLAF Aero Commander
RLAF DHC-2 Beavers
RLAF (and Ravens) T-28s
RLAF (and Ravens) U-17s
RLAF (and Ravens) O-1s
RLAF Helios
RLAF T-41s
RLAF UH-34Ds
RLAF (and White Horse) UH-1s

I dedicate this work to the courageous people of Air America who many many times risked their own lives to save those of other people. And especially to those heroic men and women whose dedication was so high that they did not make it home.

Dr. Joe F. Leeker
University of Texas at Dallas, McDermott Library      15 August 2003


As no work of this nature can ever be considered to be complete or without errors, I kindly ask that all corrections and additions be sent to Paul Oelkrug, Coordinator of the Department of Special Collections, at oelkrug@utdallas.edu. He will kindly forward all material to me.

© University of Texas at Dallas, 15 August 2003

Information About Previous Editions and Corrections

The second edition of this database includes all additions and corrections that have been sent over to Dr. Carlson and to myself since August 2003. Some files like the B-26 file have been completely restructured, others like the B-17 file have been added. Whenever possible, the present status of a former Air America aircraft has been added from FAA files, and a lot of material about Air America's contribution to the Bay of Pigs operation has been added from CIA documents or other sources. Additional information about VIAT has come to light, and many new photos have also been included in this second edition.

Yet, even after all these additions and corrections, this second edition will certainly still contain errors and gaps. So, once again, I kindly ask to send all corrections and all further additions to Paul Oelkrug, Coordinator of the Department of Special Collections, at oelkrug@utdallas.edu. He will kindly forward all material to me.

© University of Texas at Dallas, 3 June 2004


The third edition of this database contains two types of new information:

  1. More details about individual aircraft:
    • A number of additions and corrections has been made to the aircraft files.
    • More information about the aircraft of VIAT has come to light.
    • The C-54 file contains new information about the C-54s flown in the Bay of Pigs operation.
    • New information about the C-46s, Helios, and Twin Helios operated by the Aviation Research Center of India is shown in the respective files.
    • Then, for the first time, the aircraft of the Khmer Air Force maintained at Phnom Penh under the supervision of Air America's LMAT group are described here in detail.
  2. Finally, a new type of files has been added for the first time, that is files that describe in detail the history of selected types of missions flown by Air America. This is not a complete history of Air America, but a number of narrative texts about such issues as "Air America Japan - since the days of CAT", or "Air America in Laos" or "Scheduled Air Services Ryukyus". This explains the new subtitle of this database "(including the history of some of Air America's operations)".

Note: In the forth edition, these narrative files have been put together in the new e-book called The History of Air America (located at /history/index.html ), where they have also been updated and supplemented by some more narrative files about Air America's activities.

Yet, even after all these additions and corrections, this third edition will certainly still contain errors and gaps. So, once again, I kindly ask to send all corrections and all further additions to Paul Oelkrug, Coordinator of the Department of Special Collections, at oelkrug@utdallas.edu. He will kindly forward all material to me.

© University of Texas at Dallas, 29 May 2006


In the fourth edition of this database, new material has been added that came from a number of new collections received at the Air America Archives. Among these new collections, I'd like to especially mention two new collections:

  1. The material donated to the Archives by Gary Bisson, which contains invaluable microfilms made from Air America's original business correspondence especially regarding the Corporate Organization, Corporate Affairs like the acquisition and sale of aircraft, and Contracts.
  2. The material donated to the Archives by Margaret Leary, widow of the late Professor William Leary, that contains, among others, invaluable interviews with former Air America personnel, made by Bill Leary since the early eighties and preserved as a large correspondence, as memoirs or as audio tapes.

Yet, even this forth edition will certainly still contain errors and gaps. So, once again, I kindly ask to send all corrections and all further additions to Paul Oelkrug, Coordinator of the Department of Special Collections, at oelkrug@utdallas.edu. He will kindly forward all material to me.

© University of Texas at Dallas, 11 August 2008, last updated on 1 June 2009


The updates of 1 June 2009 and 23 August 2010 to this database contain new material that came from a number of new collections and sources. Among them, I'd like to especially mention two new sources:

  1. The material donated to the Archives by Patricia F. Walker, M.D., daughter of Captain Frederick "Fred" Frye Walker. This material includes priceless documents like all types of Memoranda, Notams, Contracts, Radio messages, and Daily Flight Schedules of several Air America bases, including the Saigon Daily Flight Schedules of 28 and 29 April 1975, that is of the last two days Air America was in operation.
  2. The photos sent to the author for publication by Dr. Jonathan Pote, documenting his one-year stay in Laos in 1965/66. These photos not only allowed to considerably augment the file about the RLAF T-28s maintained by Air America, but also to add a completely new section at the end of the C-47 file, presenting all known information about the C-47s flown by the Royal Laotian Air Force that were also maintained by Air America.

Once again, I kindly ask to send all corrections and all further additions to Paul Oelkrug, Coordinator of the Department of Special Collections, at oelkrug@utdallas.edu. He will kindly forward all material to me.

© University of Texas at Dallas, 11 August 2008, last updated on 23 August 2010


The fifth edition of this database contains two types of new information:

  1. A number of additions and corrections have been made to the aircraft files:
    • The C-130 file has been re-elaborated, as more details about the aircraft used in the Tibetan airlift have come to light.
    • The identity of the Grumman Goose has come to light.
    • The identities of VIAT’s C-54s have come to light.
  2. A new section about the aircraft of the Royal Lao Air Force has been added. Some of the material had been published before at the end of my files dealing with certain types of Air America aircraft. Thanks to the efforts of Sid Nanson and Steve Darke, whom I’d like to thank here for their precious contributions, many details about the losses of RLAF aircraft (T-28s, O-1s, etc.) have come to light and have been added here.

© University of Texas at Dallas, 11 August 2008, last updated on 4 March 2013