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Air America Huey Downs 2 Antonov An2s - 1968

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There is an interesting article on this event in the June 2008 "FLYPAST" magazine - starts on page 42.


Air America flight delivering ordinance came upon 2 AN2s bombing and strafing a position "Lima Green". They tried to contact fighters - but to no avail. They had an AK-47 or an Uzi machine gun on board, dumped their load and managed to shoot both aircraft down!!!


Quote from article!!


"They had been flying in a civilian 'unarmed' helicopter, to supply a US base that did not exist and had managed to destroy two military aircraft from a neighbouring country in technically neutral airspace"


As expected it was hushed up and only later did the crew get a pat on the back.


Keith Woodcock an artist did a painting of the event that hangs in the CIA gallery at Langley, Virginia.


Registration of the Bell 204 in the artwork is XW-PFH - would be interesting to see if she is still around.


Worth a read if you can get it!! or --


More info on AA website and painting can be purchased as well!!




It is a bit out of the Canadian helicopter airspace, but I know some of the AA and military guys worked up here as well.


MX Trainer

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It's 1:22 a.m. MST and I must say this was a heartwarming read to come home to after two days of back-to-back "rocket's red glare" of Independence Day. :eye: Thank you, MXt! Will hafta re-read this again tomorrow with both eyeballs and brain intact. :lol: And you're right, Freefall. GSL had two...number of other ops had some...still have a couple, in fact...too. Many AAM Hueys went to Canada and enjoyed/still enjoy long and industrious service careers. Oy vey, hurts me brain to think of lookin' at all those reg numbers again. But I will! Enjoy freedom all; it ain't free. :rolleyes:

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Bell UH-1D (205D) XW-PFH 3210 21 Sept. 67 bought new


Service history: an Agreement of sale between Bell Helicopters and Air America was signed on 29 May 67 (Minutes ExCom-AACL/AAM of 23 May 67, in: UTD/CIA/B8F2);


Bill of Sale for the unregistered aircraft dated 21 September 67 (Status as of 5 April 74, in: UTD/CIA/B56F3); officially bought by Air America on 30 September 67 at $ 328,645.75 (Accumulated costs as of 30 November 68, in: UTD/CIA/B40F8); previously probably financed by the Pacific Corp.;


assigned to contract AID-439-713 for use out of Udorn on 2 October 67, still in May 68, called thru 30 June 68 (Aircraft status as of 1 May 68, in: UTD/Herd/B2); put into service out of Udorn on 2 October 67 (Minutes ExCom-AACL/AAM of 3 October 67, in: UTD/CIA/B8F2); tail rotor damaged when it hit trees upon landing at coordinates UF 0699, Laos, on 26 December 67 (XOXO of 26 Dec. 67, in: UTD/Hickler/B25F8);Accident report, in: UTD/Hickler/B24F3); repaired; still assigned to contract AID-439-713 for use out of Udorn 15-31 August 68 (F.O.C. of 15 August 68, in: UTD/LaShomb/B14); unable to climb after take-off from Na Khang (LS-36), Laos, on 26 September 68, XW-PFH came down in soft soil causing the aircraft to tip over and come to rest in an inverted position (XOXO of 26 Sept. 68, in: UTD/Hickler/B26F17;


Accident report, in: UTD/Hickler/B24F7); repaired; still assigned to contract AID-439-713 for use out of Udorn 16-30 June 69 (F.O.Circular of 15 June 69, in: UTD/Hickler/B8F7B) and 16-31 August 69 (F.O.C. of 15 August 69, in: UTD/Hickler/B1F1); crashed at coordinates UH 1047 near the pad at Houei Tong Ko (LS-184) in Laos on 7 July 69, injuring the pilot (Capt. R. A. W. Elder), the flight mechanic (L. M. Irons) and one American passenger; extensively damaged; repaired at a cost of $135,000 (XOXO of 7 July 69, in: UTD/Hickler/B25F9; F.O.C. of 15 Aug. 69, in: UTD/Hickler/B1F1; Minutes ExCom-AAM/AACL of 8 July 69 and 12 August 69, in: UTD/CIA/B8F3); still assigned to contract AID-439-713 for use out of Udorn 1-31 July 71 (F.O.Circulars of 1 and 15 July 71, in: UTD/Hickler/B8F7B); the engine was damaged during landing at coordinates TG 9905 near Pha Khao (LS-14) in Laos on 25 February 72; repaired and returned to service on 26 February 72;


was struck by Bell 204B N8513F, while parked on the ramp at Vientiane (L-08) in Laos on 27 February 72, damaging the main rotor blades and the hub assembly; repaired and returned to service on 12 March 72 (XOXOs of 25 and 27 Feb. 72, in: UTD/Hickler/B27F2; Minutes ExCom-AACL/AAM of 14 March 72, in: UTD/CIA/B9F7); the engine lost power during cruise and malfunctioned, resulting in an autorotation landing at coordinates TF 3546 near Phong Hong (LS-133) in Laos on 7 July 72; repaired (XOXO of 7 July 72, in: UTD/Hickler/B27F2; Minutes ExCom-AACL/AAM of 11 July 72, in: UTD/CIA/B9F7); on 16 August 72, XW-PFH suffered engine problems while on the ground at Long Tieng (LS-20A); repaired and back to service the same day (XOXOs of 16 Aug. 72, in: UTD/Hickler/B27F2); on 17 December 72, XW-PFH was damaged by rocket fire, when the aircraft was parked overnight at Luang Prabang (L-54) airport; repaired (XOXO of 17 Dec. 72, in: UTD/Hickler/B27F2);


made a forced crash-landing at “T” helipad at coordinates TG 4611, Laos, approximately 1 mile southeast of Ban Nam Song (LS-363), on 21 May 73, due to engine problems; there were only minor injuries, and the aircraft was later repaired (XOXO of 21 May 73, in: UTD/Hickler/B25F12; Accident report with photos, in: UTD/CIA/B62F4); in use out of Udorn at least between 18 April 73 and 24 February 74 (Crew member duty report of H. F. Miller, in: UTD/Miller/B4F6; Udorn daily flight schedule of 18 April 73, in: UTD/ Dexter/F1); in the Air America documentary; assigned to contract F04606-71-C-0002 for use out of Udorn at least 16-30 April 73 (F.O.C. of 16 April 73, in: UTD/Kaufman/B1F14), 1 November-31 December 73, and 1-30 April 74 (F.O.Circulars of 1 November 73, 1 December 73, and 1 April 74, in: UTD/Hickler/B8F7C);


used out of Udorn as a spare aircraft 1-31 May 74 (F.O.Circular of 1 May 74, in: UTD/Hickler/B8F7C); ferried by Air America pilots Marius Burke and Geza Eiler from Udorn (T-08) to Saigon (V-01) via Bangkok (T-09) and Phnom Penh (C-01) on 23 June 74, still registered as XW-PFH (Udorn daily flight schedule of 23 June 74, in: UTD/Spencer/B1F2).


Fate: XW-reg officially cancelled already on 14 May 74; stored at Saigon without reg. (Undated aircraft list of late 74, in: UTD/CIA/B49F1); reg. N47001 was requested by Air America on 10 April 75 (Letter by Clyde S. Carter dated 10 April 75, in: UTD/CIA/B17F3).


N47001 3210 April 75 reregd. from XW-PFH


Service history: was to be crated and shipped to the Continental US on 1 May 75 (Telex dated 20 March 75, in: UTD/CIA/B18F2); was undergoing an engine change in the Air America hangar at Saigon on 29 April 75 and not operational at the time of evacuation (Report by Boyd D. Mesecher dated 75, in: UTD/CIA/B17F4).


Fate: abandoned in the Air America hangar at Tan Son Nhut airport, Saigon, on 29 April 75 (Aircraft list as of 15 May 75, in: UTD/CIA/B51F12; XOXO of 19 July 75: “Write-off of aircraft that were abandoned at Saigon”, in: UTD/CIA/B40F4; Report by Boyd D. Mesecher dated 75, in: UTD/CIA/B17F4); the cancellation of the registration was requested on 25 June 75 (Letter by Clyde S. Carter dated 25 June 75, in: UTD/CIA/B17F4); however, the list of properties abandoned and the survey report dated 21 July 75 still refer to it as XW-PFH, stating the loss as being of $ 341.242,85 (both in: UTD/CIA/B18F7).

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That is quite the history :shock:


Is there a way to tell the difference between the green machines and the civil ones. Someone somewhere at sometime told me that there was an extra rivet line on the engine deck, splitting the engine into a hot and cold side (there was a fire wall riveted to the rivet line!!) Is this true?

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There was a difference in the sheet metal thickness. I've read that you could measure it with a micrometer somewhere hear the pedals or chin bubble.

If an owl shows up around here he could provide the measurements to distinguish the two apart...

but Elvis or some Habs fan might provide a link to the thread where that was previously shared. They know how to search this site well. Me, not so much.


Love them Huey's (204/205 and 212 to us civilians though of course)


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.... But now that I think about it a little more, I don't think Air America used Military designated helicopters, I think they bought civilian versions since they were saying at the time that they had no affiliation with the military.

This is just me guessing though. Not fact.


Perhaps the lady in the purple dress could sort this out for me. Please?

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MXt: Didn't see Flypast's article, but according to one Lawrence E. Pence (Colonel, USAF; retired), he relates the following re: the AN2 incident. I took the liberty of highlighting some of my favorite parts. :rolleyes:


"The AN-2 strike force rolled in on the target, mistook the Air America ops shack for the radar site, and proceeded to ventilate it. The aforementioned “anti-aircraft artillery” force - one little Thai mercenary about five feet tall and all balls- heard the commotion, ran out on the helicopter pad, stood in the path of the attacking aircraft spraying rockets and bombs everywhere, and emptied a 27-round clip from his AK-47 into the AN-2, which then crashed and burned. At this juncture, the second attack aircraft broke off and turned north towards home. The “air defense interceptor” force was an unarmed Air America Huey helicopter which was by happenstance on the pad at the time, the pilot and flight mechanic having a Coke in the ops shack. When holes started appearing in the roof, they ran to their Huey and got airborne, not quite believing the sight of two biplanes fleeing north. Then the Huey pilot, no slouch in the balls department either, realized that his Huey was faster than the biplanes! So he did the only thing a real pilot could do -attack!


The Huey overtook the AN-2’s a few miles inside North Vietnam, unknown to the AN-2’s as their rearward visibility is nil. The Huey flew over the rearmost AN-2 and the helicopter’s down-wash stalled out the upper wing of the AN-2.


Suddenly the hapless AN-2 pilot found himself sinking like a stone! So he pulled the yoke back in his lap and further reduced his forward speed. Mean-while, the Huey flight mechanic, not to be outdone in the macho contest, crawled out on the Huey’s skid and, one-handed, emptied his AK-47 into the cockpit area of the AN-2, killing or wounding the pilot and copilot. At this point, the AN-2 went into a flat spin and crashed into a mountainside, but did not burn.


It should come as no surprise that the Air America pilot and flight mechanic found themselves in a heap of trouble with the State Department REMF’s in Vientiane. (REMF is an acronym. The first three words are Rear, Echelon, and Mother.) In spite of the striped-pants cookie-pushers’ discomfort at (horrors!) an international incident (or perhaps, partly because of it) these guys were heroes to everybody in the theatre who didn’t wear puce panties and talk with a lisp. They accomplished a couple of firsts: (1) The first and only combat shootdown of a biplane by a helicopter, and (2) The first known CIA air-to-air victory."


IMHO, it's very fitting that a commemorative painting has been done about the incident!


Murdie: Well...as you can imagine...the history of Air America's ops, pilots and aircraft is a tangled web, to be certain. For all intent purposes, the civilian airline (yes, airline...lots of twin-engine transport a/c, STOL a/c, and dozens upon dozens of helicopters) was a front for the CIA. Lots and lots of covert ops. But just some things I've discovered in my own research:



Air America pilots were the only known private U.S. corporate employees to operate non-FAA-certified military aircraft in a combat role, although many of them were actually military personnel who had been transferred to the airline. Helicopter pilots had to deal with high altitude flights into mountains in tropical heat, which diminished the lift the rotors could give, and it took a great deal of unorthodox flying to accomplish their missions. The conflict itself created an even more dangerous environment, and AA pilots flew missions that no military pilot would dare, coming under fire almost on a daily basis. 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 (21,000 metric tons) of food in Laos. Helicopter flight time reached more than 4,000 hours a month in the same year. Many AA pilots were shot down, sometimes multiple times over the course of the war.



As for the helis being civilian-version Hueys, the majority of AAM's a/c were "hand-me-downs" from the U.S. Army and such and painted to look "civilian", often without visible reg numbers and insignia. No idea about panel/sheet metal thicknesses, et al, but transport versions of the UH-1 (such as the one commemorated in the painting) were called "slicks" because of their uncluttered (civilian-ish, if you will) appearance. They were generally armed with M-60 machine guns on a flexible mount in each door to provide covering fire for troops. I've put a few AAM heli questions out to a dear friend and former Filipino AAM Crew Chief; perhaps he can shed more light on any special qualities of AAM's helicopters.


We often equate the Huey with Air America and the Vietnam War, but I did want to leave you with the story of The Quiet One, a Hughes 500P. Perhaps some of you might find it interesting:




Whoa! Sorry for the long post; it's a topic near and dear to me and I'm totally infatuated by it. The Air America story remains largely untold, but now that the "no speak/no tell" sanction was lifted a few years back (don't know the exact time/date), more and more will come out. The problem is that we're losing more and more Air America pilots and crew chiefs as time goes by, and for those still with us, this was a long, long time ago and sadly, sometimes memories fade. I'm still in correspondence with a few AAM folks to learn all that I can. :)

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