The CIA’s Secret Airlines in Laos during the Vietnam War.

The CIA’s Secret Airlines in Laos during the Vietnam War.

Above Photo: Laotian officials and villagers line up for the arrival of a flown-in Bigwig. (Micky Finn)

I was recently sent some outstanding photographs of Laos and elsewhere by a reader of this site, Andrew Finn, whose father, George Merideth Roy (“Micky”) Finn, was a pilot in Laos with two CIA-owned airlines.

One was called Continental Air Services (CASI).

Micky Finn's Continental Air Services Inc. Identity Card (Micky Finn)

Micky Finn’s Continental Air Services Inc. Identity Card (Micky Finn)

And he also flew for a little-known CIA-owned airline called Bird & Sons Inc, which was subsequently acquired by CASI.

Micky Finn's FAA Pilot's Licence in the name of Bird and Sons Inc. (Micky Finn)

Micky Finn’s FAA Pilot’s Licence in the name of Bird and Sons Inc. (Micky Finn)

These airlines were used in much the same way the CIA used Air America in south-east Asia. Under cover of what looked like privately-owned airlines, they ferried Hmong and Royalist Lao troops, supplies and weapons around Laos, during the Vietnam War and the not-so-secret war in Laos.

They also transferred a considerable amount of humanitarian aid – medical supplies and food – to remote villages during that time as well.

Another CIA Airline in Laos - Air America. (© Robert L. Wofford, Wofford Collection, wisc.edu )

Another CIA Airline in Laos – Air America. (© Robert L. Wofford, Wofford Collection, wisc.edu )

Before he flew in Laos, Micky Finn had worked for US intelligence for years, flying in many countries around the world, including the Congo, Iran and Jordan, where he taught King Hussein to fly.

An Iran Air plane from when Micky Finn flew in Iran (Micky Finn).

An Iran Air plane from when Micky Finn flew in Iran (Micky Finn).

During his time in Laos Micky Finn frequently flew General Vang Pao and other senior Hmong generals around the country.

A Royalist Lao dignitary passes in front of a Kingbee helicopter on a visit in-country (Micky Finn)

A Royalist Lao dignitary passes in front of a Kingbee helicopter on a visit in-country (Micky Finn)

Jack Jolis, a CIA Case Officer who operated out of Long Tieng, Laos, believes he was flown by Micky Finn during his time in-country, in a Pilatus Porter.

A Dornier 28A-1 on a remote airstrip in Laos. (Micky Finn).

A Dornier 28A-1 on a remote airstrip in Laos. (Micky Finn).

Jack said, that the ‘Customer’ (namely, CIA operatives) of proprietary airlines such as CASI and Air America didn’t think of them as different entities, with one exception – CASI only used fixed wing aircraft in Laos; it didn’t have helicopters, so for operations using helicopters, Air America were contracted.

Micky Finn in the cockpit.(Micky Finn)

Micky Finn in the cockpit.(Micky Finn)

“Whereas Air America was really a 100% wholly-owned subsidiary of the Agency, CASI was in fact an Agency-owned subsidiary of an actually independent, non-Agency, working airline, called Continental Air Lines,” he said.

A trans-Continental aircraft in a much colder climate. (Micky Finn).

A trans-Continental aircraft in a much colder climate. (Micky Finn).

“I remember at the time being told that it was a complicated, convoluted somewhat schizophrenic arrangement which had been put together, not surprisingly, by the then-Wall Street lawyer who would later become the head of the Agency itself, my old friend William J. Casey — who had friends both on the Continental board of directors and high in the Nixon administration….”

See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.

For POWs left behind in Laos, see:

© Peter Alan Lloyd

BACK Parts 1 and 2

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UK: Amazon.co.uk: BACK Parts 1 and 2 

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Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 2.

Front cover of BACK Part 2.

 

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5 Comments

  1. Alan

    Its not a Pilatus but a Dornier 28A-1

    Reply
  2. ken Liss

    what a great trailer, Peter. Is this being distributed by anyone yet?

    Reply
    • Peter Alan Lloyd

      Thanks Ken.

      The film’s FAR better than this hastily assembled trailer. But we’re happy with this too, as we just needed something for the distributors to see when we went to a Film Fair in Hong Kong recently. Happily we are talking to one well known US distributor at the moment and will send them a decent version of the edited and coloured film mid-May.

      Reply
  3. Scott

    I know this is obscure, but my story in relation to this is about a lot of heroin that was transported out of that area by the CIA. This was shared to me by a friend from New Zealand who remained in the area after the Vietnam War and worked as a mercenary, and a large part of his job was guarding the product so it made it safely to the planes. He openly said it went to the CIA, although he guarded it for what he called warlords

    Reply

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