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24 July 2010

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William R. Cumming

How are those who flew and died for "Air America" remembered for their valor?

JP

WRC--Stars on a wall.

John Kirkman

One day at Saigon there was a C-46, the venerable Curtis Commando, sitting on the ramp. It was an Air America bird and I walked over and asked him about flying that “old” plane instead of a C-47. He replied that the C-46 stalled straight ahead and the Gooneybird dropped a wing in a stall, a serious consideration when dropping supplies out the side of the airplane in narrow mountain valleys.

The Twisted Genius

You, sir, are a true Virginia gentleman... ever ready to right a wrong. I salute you. I never had any direct dealings with Clapper. I imagine his vast experience in bureaucratic infighting, and all the good and bad that goes with that experience, will serve him well as DNI. Perhaps at his age and stage of his professional life he won't feel the need to suck up to anyone. What does he have to lose? In the words of the 442nd RCT, "Go For Broke!"

Patrick Lang

WRC

I don't think I responded to your question about AA, but these days, maybe I did...

Air America did all that great stuff over in Laos, but in SVN they ran a scheduled airline service to various isolated and often surrounded "bush" airstrips under contract to CORDS. They flew C-45(?) Twin engine Beechcraft and Pilatus Porter. They also had a few Caribou for hauling jobs. The aircrew were guys in airline uniforms who were mostly former or retired military aviators making a few bucks in retirement. They normally flew the aircraft singlehanded with nobody in the other seat. I rode their service a lot from the mountain country down to headquarters for meetings in 68-69. They were brave souls. On one occasion I remember being mortared on the apron of the airstrip in Song Be. I was standing next to a C-45 when the first round hit the PSP nearby. I jumped into the nearby ditch (about two feet deep) and the pilot followed. We lay there while the .82 mm fire "searched" the apron for the plane. When the fire finally lifted, the pilot and I raced for the door of the plane. He jumped into his seat, started the engines and we roared off down the runway with more mortar fire accompanying. After a while I went back and closed the door. We waited all the way to Bien Hoa to see if anything would fall off the airplane. My hat has always been off to the men of Air America. pl

Patrick Lang

MJ

Yes! They are back, this time as "fobbits." pl

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