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Must read e-books by Dr. Joe Leeker

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Dr. Joe Leeker has published two fascinating e-books, “The Aircraft of Air America”, and “The History of Air America”.  Professor Leeker worked extensively with the University of Texas at Dallas in researching and writing these e-books.  Anyone interested in CAT/Air America History would enjoy these reads.

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.

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.


  1. Mark M

    November 6, 2015

    The DB Cooper case remains the ONLY unsolved US skyjack. I think DB Cooper knew ahead of time that a 727 was jumpable. Otherwise he was entering a flyable jail cell with arrest certain after it landed. It has occurred to me that he might have had prior knowledge of the SAT 727 drop tests conducted over Thailand. See the video here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrqdmXxBZjI

    Does anyone on this forum know how widely info about those 727 drop tests was disseminated? Was it classified info? Might MAC SOG jumpers in Vietnam have known about them? How about sport jumpers in Saigon (yes, there was sport jumping during the war).

    I can find no evidence that 727s were used for airdrops in Vietnam, does anyone know different?

    I jumped from a DC-9-21 at a skydive meet. FUN!

    I echo the praises for Joe Leeker’s books EXCELLENT!

    Mark M

  2. Michelle Gatz

    November 6, 2013

    Mr. Leeker,
    I was wondering if you could help me, I have some documents on the ranch hand missions for Laos and was wondering if you could look at them and tell me where the aircrafts were stationed. I work with veterans on their claims and need this information.
    Thank you
    Michelle Gatz
    Granite Falls, MN

  3. James Fang

    August 20, 2013

    Hope I can find something in your book regarding the operations of C-123K by ChinaAirlines flight crew in the years of 1960. At that time, ST-1,ST-2 to ST-4 were gunned down or crashed in Vietnam from 1965-1975.
    I was one of the flight crew on C-123 K.

    • Joe Leeker

      August 25, 2013

      Dear Mr. Fang,
      you can find China Airlines’ operations for Air America in Air America in South Vietnam I, II, and III within the History. Details about China Airlines’ C-46s and C-123Ks operated for AAM can be found at the end of these files within the Aircraft. Any additions that could be added in future edtions are more than welcome.
      All the best from Germany
      Joe Leeker

      • Mark Hamilton

        September 5, 2016

        Dr. Leeker,

        My father, Dan Hamilton, was a lead engineer, draftsman, and test pilot, on the Wren STOL project in the mid-60’s. We are trying to gather as much information on the Wrens, as possible, and would like to know if there is any information on the Wrens that flew in Laos. He recalls them being sold to Bird & Sons, but we would like to validate their use. Could Joe Hazen or John Wiren be good sources, if still alive?
        My father tells a story in which an FAA inspector was asked to sign off on the repairs of one of the Wrens after being shot. This was at Meachem Field in Fort Worth, TX. The inspector said he could not sign off on the repairs without inspecting the aircraft. The agent made a phone call and then returned to ask the inspector if he had a toothbrush or wanted pick one up on the way. He had arranged a transport and would have him in Laos by daylight. The inspector decided to go ahead and sign off on the repairs.
        Any information you have on 3790U or 2449R would be greatly appreciated.
        Mark Hamilton
        P.S. We currently own Wren N61Y(originally 3157S) that my father flew out of the Cessna factory on its original flight in 1964.

      • James Reed

        March 23, 2017

        Thought you might be interested, my father was a USAF Airmen that worked on the T-28’s in Udorn during 1965. Don’t know if you would like to speak with him. We we’re talking recently and he was reminiscing about his time and experience over there. He has been very disappointed that there hasn’t been much talk about what happened there, that all of the talk is about Vietnam. I will print your article out and give it to him, as he will finally feel some vindication about his service. Thank you for what you have done – James.

        • Shaver, Mary

          March 29, 2017

          Dear James ~
          I believe your father’s feelings are reflected in the hearts of many who were there. I hope the article brought your father some solace for his service in Southeast Asia.
          Thank you very much for your Comment and interest in our website. Appreciate you making contact.
          Mary – a pilot’s daughter

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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.
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