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  Xieng Khouang Air Transport History

Xieng Khouang Air Transport

As part of the aid and assistance given to Vang Pao in return for the Hmong support Laos Vang Pao received two C-47s from the CIA. One aircraft was obtained from Air America, Inc. and the other from Continental Air Services, Inc. Financial assistance came from USAID and financial control of the airline was held by Vang Pao's family.

The aircraft were originally piloted by Thai crew, however, after a fatal crash in January of 1970 American pilots were hired. The airline carried relief supplies, passengers and munitions for Vang Pao and the Hmong and was restricted to flying shuttles between Long Tieng and Vientiane. It has been alleged this "airline" was created for Vang Pao to remove the threat of opium smuggling from Air America and CASI aircraft.1

The remaining C-47 flew for the balance of the Laotian conflict and was maintained at Wattay Airport in Vientiane. It was from that location, to avoid losing the aircraft to the Pathet Lao, that Captain Joe Hammer, a CASI pilot solo-piloted the C-47 from Vientiane to Udorn, Thailand on May 10, 1975.2 Due to mechanical problems the aircraft was deemed unsafe to participate in the evacuation of Long Tieng.

Xieng Khouang aircraft colors were an overall white fuselage and wings with a gold stripe along the fuselage with the words Xieng Khouang Air Transport in English above the windows. Gold cowling rings on each engine and an unidentified tail rudder insignia completed the markings.3

No information on insignia or uniforms for Xieng Khouang Air Transport has been found.

1 Christopher Robbins, Air America: The Story of the CIA’s Secret Airlines (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1979).

2  Gayle L. Morrison, Sky is Falling – An Oral History of the CIA’s Evacuation of the Hmong  from Laos (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.) 1999.

3 Kenneth Conboy, War in Laos (Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc.) 1994.

 

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