Bird Air in Cambodia

During 1973 four C-130Es from the 317th Tactical Airlift Wing at Pope AFB, North Carolina were sent on temporary duty (TDY) to U-Tapao RTAFB, Thailand to perform All Weather Aerial Delivery System (AWADS) missions over Laos and Cambodia. These flights were at first performed by crews from Pope but they were replaced by personnel from Little Rock AFB, Arkansas after just two months.

The four aircraft, serials 70-1270, 70-1271, 70-1272 and 70-1274 remained at U-Tapao AB with the Pope tail code "PB" until the Little Rock crews took over. The tail code was then removed and replaced by a Playboy Bunny ("PB") emblem which was retained whilst crews from Pope and Little Rock periodically rotated until August 1974 when the AWADS flights ceased and the C-130s returned to Pope.

Although the USAF had officially terminated Indo-China resupply flights, during August 1974 a joint civilian/military company known as Thai-Am was established and assigned to Bird Air (BirdAir) which was essentially an Air America type organisation.

Five aircraft, serialled 63-7885, 64-0496, 64-0499, 64-17681 and 64-18240 left Pope on 5 August 1974 for South-East Asia. Both civilian and military aircrews flew these AWADS missions but when crewed by civilians these aircraft carried no external markings or serial whatsoever. These could, however, be applied by the use of small screw-on plates when volunteer military personnel performed the missions. The size of the plate containing the serial was 10 inches long by three inches high! These flights were used to resupply troops fighting in Phnom Penh with weapons and ammunition. All five aircraft left South-East Asia during July 1975.


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