Many former CAT Employees have published books about their experiences.  Historians and others have also written about our founders General Chennault and Whitey Willauer, and about CAT and Air America. The following is a list, in no particular order, of some of these publications on CAT and related subjects:

The History of Air America  (e-book)
by: Dr. Joe F. Leeker
This e-book tries to give a detailed history of Air America and its predecessor Civil Air Transport. It starts with 2 files about CAT operations in Mainland China, then deals with several aspects of CAT operations on Taiwan (structure, scheduled and charter flights, work for the US Government), then presents CAT operations “in remote countries” like New Zealand, Guatemala or Indonesia, and finally deals with operations that began at the times of CAT and still existed at the times of Air America like the Technical Services Division at Tainan, operations out of Japan (including CAT during the Korean War), operations run out of Kadena and Clark Air Bases and missions to Tibet flown by CAT and later Air America.

Recent Updates:
(CAT, Air Asia, Air America – the Company on Taiwan III: Work for the US Government)
(Missions to Tibet)
(Company Management, Administration, and Ground Support I – at the times of CAT: 1947-1959)
(Company Management, Administration, and Ground Support II – at the times of Air America, Part 1: 1959-1973)

The Aircraft of Air America  (e-book)
by: Dr. Joe F. Leeker
This e-book lists the individual history of all aircraft ever operated by Air America including all known accidents. As the “birth date” of Air America was 31 March 1959, CAT aircraft are only dealt with if they still existed after that date.  Files of interest to readers of the CAT Association are those about the Bell 47, Goose, B-26, C-47, C-46, PBY, B-17, C-54, DC-6, and the Jets.

Recent Updates:
(Air America Hughes 500)
(Air America B-26)
(Air America B-17)

Unsung Heroes

Maj. Gen. Bill Chen (ret.), Editor-in-Chief

This book gives long-overdue recognition and honor to Chinese American World War II Veterans, as they have been largely forgotten and ignored.  Enacted on December 20, 2018, the Chinese American World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act, Public Law 115-337, gives recognition and honors veterans with the award of the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States Congress.  As stated in public law, “their commitment and sacrifice demonstrate a highly uncommon and commendable sense of patriotism in the face of discrimination.”More information can be found on our Happenings Page. To purchase “UNSUNG HEROES”: Download Mail-In Order Form or Online Order Form

China Pilot: Fighting for Chennault During the Cold War
by: Capt. Felix Smith
“A pilot for the China-based airline reputed to be the most shot at in the world, Felix Smith recounts in vivid detail his experiences ferrying troops and equipment for the Nationalists during China’s civil war; providing medicine and supplies to war-torn regions; and flying under CIA contract during the French war in Indochina, the Korean War, America’s secret war in Laos, and the Vietnam war. The book provides a rare view of the Cold War in Asia, documenting not only the hair-raising adventures of Civil Air Transport’s pilots but also those of the men and women behind the scenes.”

See reviews on Amazon

Original brand new, signed copies available for $35, postage included.
Send checks made out to Felix Smith, to:
Patricia Walker MD
15234 Afton Hills Court S.
Afton, MN, 55001


The Pictorial History of Civil Air Transport

by: C. Joseph Rosbert
The history of an airline can be a rather mundane story, but CAT was no ordinary outfit.  Formed by General Claire L. Chennault of Flying Tiger fame, and Whiting Willauer, in October of 1946, the cataclysmic postwar period in China was to spawn an airline operation the like of which had never been seen before, nor equaled since.  Using surplus war equipment, CAT expanded rapidly, setting up more than fifty stations all over the vast regions of China from Canton in the southeast, to the north in Manchuria, and to the far flung areas of Chinese Turkestan (Sinkiang Province) in the northwest.  With the onslaught of communist forces, all of that outstanding effort was wiped out, and CAT found itself on Taiwan starting another chapter in its history in partnership with the CIA.  That took it to all parts of the world, and proved how effective an airline could be as an arm of the U.S. Government.  This is a photographic story of CAT, an airline with more than nine lives!  (Book Jacket)
The Pictorial History is currently unavailable, but there are plans for another printing due to high interest.

Flying Tiger Joe’s Adventure Story Cookbook
by: C. Joseph Rosbert
This book is a treasure trove of great stories, adventures and recipes.  His book is one of the best narratives of the AVG. It is very enjoyable reading indeed.  And the recipes are terrific, from all over the areas he traversed.  I rate this book very highly. I met Joe Rosbert at the Oshkosh Airshow in 1990. What a swell guy.  I wish I could have gotten to know him better.  (Description from written by Tom Constable, former Flying Tiger)
Available directly from Joe’s son, Bob Rosbert, for $21.45 (includes postage).  Please send to your request to: Bob Rosbert, 25918 Primrose Springs Court, Katy, TX 77494
Used copies are available on

Perilous Missions: Civil Air Transport and CIA Covert Operations in Asia

by: William M. Leary
Civil Air Transport (CAT), founded in China after World War II by Claire Chennault and Whiting Willauer, was initially a commercial carrier specializing in air freight. Its role quickly changed as CAT became first a paramilitary adjunct of the Nationalist Chinese Air Force, then the CIA’s secret “air force” in Korea, then “the most shot-at airline in the world” in French Indochina, and eventually becoming reorganized as Air America at the height of the Vietnam War. William M. Leary’s detailed operational history of CAT sets the story in the perspective of Asian and Cold War geopolitics and shows how CAT allowed the CIA to operate with a level of flexibility and secrecy that it would not have attained through normal military or commercial air transportation. (Description from
Available at

Destiny: A Flying Tiger’s Rendezvous with Fate
by: Erik Shilling
Mr. Shilling’s autobiographical book is a great insight into what made the legendary men of the AVG, CAT, Bird Air and Air America tick. His stories of close calls and unusual people and places are truly worth the search to find this rare gem. He was one of the last unsung heroes from the dark early days of World War II for America. (Excerpt of a review by J. G. Scott on
Available on

Pioneer Aviator in China

by: Max Springweiler
This book is about early aviation in China and the experiences of Max Springweiler. It provides the reader a better understanding of how CAT evolved and may represent a forward for all the other books about CAT and Air America in South East Asia.  This English translation is jointly published by the daughters of Max Springweiler, Jerry Fink and the Associations of CAT and Air America. The proceeds of this book go to the endowment fund for the Archives of CAT/Air America held at the University of Texas at Dallas. It was translated from German by Dr. Larry Sall of UTD. (Description from
Available on, or by sending a request and $30 check to: CAT/Air America Archives, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX 75083


by: Jack Samson
Claire Chennault went to China in 1937 to survey the Chinese Air Force. He stayed on to organize the legendary Flying Tigers and to lead the China, Burma, India Theater’s 14th Air Force in World War II. Samson traces the career of this early prophet of air power who fought the Japanese and became involved in a number of controversies. After the war, Chennault continued to serve the Nationalist Chinese Government and, along with his Civilian Air Transport (CAT), provided a number of clandestine and unique air services to Asia. Samson, who served under Chennault in both the 14th Air Force and CAT, writes with affection. Recommended for most collections.George F. Scheck, Naval Underwater Systems Lib., Newport, R.I.  (Description from
Available on

The Flying Tiger: The True Story of General Claire Chennault and the U.S. 14th Air Force in China
by: Jack Samson
A definitive biography of the legendary leader of the Flying Tigers and the U.S. Fourteenth Air Force in China. The Flying Tigers and the U.S. Fourteenth will be the subject of a huge upcoming film from IMAX and director John Woo. The film is scheduled to start shooting in spring 2011 with no firm release date stated yet. The role of Chennault in the film is likely to be the role of a lifetime for a huge star.  (Description from
Available on

Flying Tiger: Chennault of China

by: Robert Lee Scott, Jr.
This book was written at the tail end of B/gen Scott’s career as commander of Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Knowing what we know now about General Chennault and his men and their collective discontent for authority, specifically the likes of Clayton Bissell and Joseph Stilwell, I can only assume that “Scotty” held back somewhat in this writing. Maybe back in the 50’s you were supposed to be reserved.  However, this is an excellent story of one of the renaissance men of aviation, a man who single-handedly changed the way we fight in the air. Chennault was handcuffed almost from the start, being labeled as a maverick and cast aside much too early in a career that would eventually transform itself into the world of civilian air transportation with the Flying Tiger Line.  There have been many books on Chennault, but this one is from one of the “regulars” who won over not only Chennault but his band of merrymen known as the AVG, or the REAL flying tigers!  It is definitely one that I recommend to any fan of General Chennault or Robert L. Scott.  (Description from a Review by on
Available on

Chennault: Giving Wings to the Tiger
by: Martha Byrd

Born in rural Louisiana in 1893, Claire Lee Chennault worked as a teacher before joining the army and becoming a commissioned officer. Although he was initially rejected for flight school, he continued to apply and was finally accepted in 1918. He eventually became the lead pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps’ precision flying team. During this time, Chennault developed air-to-air combat techniques that he believed should play a decisive role in warfare. However, his opinion contradicted the official Air Corps policy that military aircraft be used primarily for strategic bombing. Chennault’s frustration and dissatisfaction with this stance was so great that when Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek offered him the opportunity to lead advanced fighter pilot training in China, he quickly left the American military and accepted the position in 1937. There he played a key role in the formation of the American Volunteer Group (AVG), popularly known as “the Flying Tigers.” The aviators of the Flying Tigers fought against Japan on behalf of China before and during World War II. Early war newsreels showing them defending Burma mythologized the fighter pilots, and Chennault became a romantic hero to the American public. In 1942, the AVG was deactivated and Chennault returned to active duty with the Air Corps, but his disregard for traditional military procedure earned him many enemies among his peers and superiors and he eventually retired. This book was originally published in hardcover in 1987 by The University of Alabama Press. It was hailed as the best of several biographies of Chennault. Reference and Research Book News stated, “This book is of far better quality than the others previously released. The research employed by the author and the depth of detail give the reader an accurate picture of this controversial and charismatic man.” (Description from
Available on

Across the Mekong: The True Story of an Air America Helicopter Pilot
by: Charles O. Davis

Across the Mekong is a vivid account of the author’s two and a half years as a helicopter pilot for Air America. Through lifelike word pictures in the book you will be in the cockpit of the Sikorsky H-34 helicopter, flying over the war-torn country of Laos. You will experience flight above rugged mountains, through rain-drenched tropical storms, and in areas of extreme danger due to the raging civil war. A must-read for anyone interested in the CIA’s secret war involving Air America in Indo-china. (Description from
Available on

Flight of the Erawan

by: John C. Wiren
From offices fronting for the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C. to the jungles, mountains and plains of Southeast Asia, the author draws the reader into the “Secret War” of the Sixties in Laos. While the action centers around the maneuverings by Air America in support of the Laotian anti-communist forces against the Pathet Lao and, at that time, the North Vietnamese threat, the author explores the various locales, from Bangkok to Vientiane, from Saigon to Taiwan, and from Japan to Korea that form the background for the “Secret War.” If you saw a recent movie that depicted Air America operations, now read a novelized account from someone who was really there, in the air and on the ground. (Description from
Available on, and

Honor Denied: The Truth About Air America and the CIA

by: Allen Cates
Air America flight crews, hired as civilians, but castigated as mercenaries, malcontents, and psychopaths, operated military aircraft and performed yeoman service for twenty-five years until the war in Southeast Asia ended on a rooftop in downtown Saigon. They have never been recognized for their sacrifices. Author and former Air America pilot Allen Cates cuts through the myths and subterfuge surrounding this elite stealth Air Force used by the United States to fight a secret war in Honor Denied. The culmination of Cates’s years as a pilot and his in-depth research into Air America’s murky past, this intense study follows his escape from rural, small-town America to the US Marines, as well as his time as an officer and pilot flying combat operations in Vietnam and rescue missions for Air America. Peppering the narrative with vivid personal details, Cates describes the background and purpose of this unique organization and then discloses the startling casualties – both those killed in action and those wounded and injured with permanent disability. He shines the light on their cause, long hidden from the general public, and reveals how these brave men and women were denied recognition and benefits by those who knew the truth, including the US President, Secretaries of State and Defense, and even the Director of the CIA. Proud, yet never boastful, Honor Denied tells a story that needs to be told – and heard. (Description from
Available on

Out of Laos: A Story of War and Exodus
(Told in Photographs)
by: Robert Warner
Available directly from Roger Warner – 171 Argilla Road, Ipswich, MA 01938 – $20 plus $2 for shipping in the USA

Mister Pop
by: D.A. Schanche
As a journalist who traveled with Edgar “Pop” Buell for some time during his journeys through the highlands of Laos, Schanche was in a unique position to tell the story of Mister Pop, whose story is also the story of the Hmong people. Although the story is assuredly non-fictional, Schanche’s narrative reads like an adventure novel.  More than any other American involved, with the exception of perhaps Bill Lair, Edgar Buell truly cared about the Hmong people as if they were his own family. Not only did he teach them new agricultural skills and techniques that greatly improved their living conditions, he also tried to help them live a better life in other ways. Far from a proselytizing missionary, Buell was very accepting of Hmong traditions and left them alone; the closest he got to moral crusading was his (unsuccessful) attempt at getting the Hmong to switch from opium production (their only cash crop) to sweet potatoes. He did, however, help them solidify relations among themselves and secure fair relations with the Lao royalty and American forces. And when the fighting started, Buell fought with every ounce of his strength, gave up every resource at his disposal, and risked his life countless times alongside his many friends to ensure the safety and well being of the Hmong people.  Mister Pop, or Tan Pop, was an honorary title given by the Hmong people to Edgar Buell, meaning something like “Father From-the-Sky” in their mother tongue. Read this book to find out why they once honored the man so – and still do. (Description from a review by Terinati on
Currently unavailable from Amazon and out of print, but may be found in used books stores and websites.

Journey to Destiny
by: Wolfgang S. deBeauclair
Wolfgang S. deBeauclair is a man with an interesting and diverse past. His autobiography, Journey to Destiny takes you from his inquisitive boyhood in pre-war China, through his adventures in World War II Europe and the Balkans, to the realization of his dream of living in the United States. Shanghai provides a colorful backdrop for deBeauclair’s youth. Here, he had the freedom to explore the rich cultures of Asia, and explore he did, ranging the China coast aboard a junk saling ship, investigating the Sino-Japanese battlefields, and mixing in a cultured international society as a young man. From Asia, deBeauclair takes the reader to war-time Germany, where he meets many members of his family for the first time and is conscripted to serve in the German Army Language Corps. In post-war Germany, deBeauclair works again as an interpreter, meets the girl who would be his bride and realizes his dream of coming to the United States. “deBeauclair tells his story with a unique insight on the various cultures Chinese, German, and Anglo-American in which he has lived. His perspectives on the events during the turbulent times from 1925 through 1949 are drawn with the candor of youth and yet told with the wisdom of a man who has the ability to see beyond the surface.”David L. Moore, Director, International Programs, San Diego State University Foundation.   (Description from
Available on

Tragedy and Triumph: A Pilot’s Life Through War and Peace
by: James “Paladin” Fore, and Larry Jacks
This is the story of the career of Captain Jim Fore, who logged over 37,000 hours spanning 43 years and 3 wars. Jim graduated from military flight school at 18 years of age, was assigned to the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Europe as a B-17 pilot. Jim was shot down on his 28th mission and survived Buchenwald as a POW. After a short period flying in the States, Jim made his way to Shanghai and was hired directly by General Chennault, subject to passing a check ride with Capt. Erik Shilling. Later, Jim was recruited by Dutch Brongersma to fly for BIRD AIR in Laos and suffered the discomfort of being shot down a second time up country in 1963. Later, Jim flew out of South Vietnam and Thailand before heading up various operations in Africa.  (Description from a review by Joel Smith on
Available on

Raiders of the China Coast: CIA Covert Operations During the Korean War

(Naval Institute Special Warfare Series)
by: Frank Holober

Describes top-secret raids launched by Chinese Nationalist and a colorful band of American adventurers.  (Description from Goodreads)
Available on



  1. L.G. CHAO

    November 16, 2020

    The memories of my Dad, L.G.CHAO

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Civil Air Transport (CAT) was an airline founded by Lt. General Claire Lee Chennault, leader of the Flying Tigers, and Whiting Willauer of China Defense Supplies at the conclusion of World War II.  Most of the pilots were former Tigers or other combat pilots from the Asian Theatre.  For the next four decades, CAT, and then its successor, Air America, were primary instruments of American foreign policy in Asia.
© CAT Association 2012