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Air America

From Academic Kids

This article is about the airline. See Air America (movie) for the movie and Air America Radio for the liberal radio network.
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AirAmericaPilotCap.jpg
Air America pilot cap

Air America was an airline secretly controlled by the CIA that supplied covert operations in Southeast Asia during the Second Indochina War.

In 1957 the parent company of Air America's forerunner, Civil Air Transport, changed its name from American Airdale Corporation to The Pacific Corporation. CAT attempted to change its name to Air America at the same time, but objections from Air France and American Airlines delayed the name change for two years. From 1959 to 1962 the airline provided direct and indirect support to Operations Ambidextrous, Hotfoot, and White Star, which trained the regular Laos armed forces.

From 1962 to 1975, Air America inserted and extracted US personnel, provided logistical support to the Secret Army, transported refugees, and flew photo reconnaissance missions that provided valuable intelligence on enemy activities. Its civilian-marked craft were frequently used, under the control of the 7/13th Air Force, to run search and rescue missions for US pilots downed in Indochina. Air America piliots were the only known private US corporation employees to operate non-FAA certified military aircraft in a combat role.

Air America has been accused of transporting opium and heroin. Veterans deny that this was done knowingly. The airline was the first to use drug sniffing dogs and a drug security force at their main operating airports.

By the summer of 1970, the airline had some two dozen twin-engine transports, another two dozen short-take off-and-landing aircraft, and 30 helicopters dedicated to operations in Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. There were more than 300 pilots, copilots, flight mechanics, and airfreight specialists based in Laos and Thailand. During 1970, Air America delivered 46 million pounds (20,000 t) of food in Laos. Helicopter flight time reached more than 4,000 hours a month in the same year. When North Vietnamese forces overran South Vietnam in 1975, Air America helicopters evacuated the embassy in Saigon.

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