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Civil Air Transport (CAT) and Air America Association Collection

 Collection
Identifier: CA089-87

Scope and Content

This collection contains raised-relief maps, aeronautical charts, correspondence, notes, articles, transcripts, brochures, clippings, narratives, flight records, oral histories, charts, manuals, newsletters, philatelic materials, listings, ephemera, memorabilia, images, moving images, reunion kits, and other materials that stem from various collections within the CAT/Air America Archives, where provenance could not be established. The Civil Air Transport (CAT) and Air America Association Collection is housed in seventy-three boxes, one carton, three flat-file folders, sixteen audio/film reels, and two objects of varying sizes totaling 83.61 linear ft.

This is an artificial collection where the archivist imposed order. The first series is the Various Materials Collection Series, which contains materials regarding the graves of James McGovern (Earthquake McGoon) and Wally Buford; Jesse Walton correspondence and Air America retirement plans; correspondence and notes regarding the motion picture Air America; David A. Lampard materials; Leon V. LaShomb materials, Jeff Jeffreys materials and interviews; publications regarding CAT and Air America; navigational facilities listings and charts; images depicting a hospital setting and Hmong people receiving care; American Airlines fleet flying for Air America; Ted Mauldin materials; CNAC flight schedule, inflight publications, calendars; and Joe Hennessy materials.

The second series is the Reunions Series, which is further organized in three subseries: 1. CAT, 2. Air America, and 3. Air America Reunion Yearbooks from the Duane Keele Collection at Texas Tech University Vietnam Center and Archive.

Subseries 1. includes reunion kits, press releases, images, moving images, oral histories, brochures, signed posters, second generation VHS-tapes, ephemera, and memorabilia representing the activities at the various reunions.

Subseries 2. comprises moving images, memorabilia, images, and oral histories representing the activities at the various reunions.

Subseries 3. contains scans from yearbooks collected by Duane Keele during reunions that are housed at Texas Tech University Vietnam Center and Archive.

The third series is the Personal History of Air America Employees Series featuring biographical information, notes, and narratives about a selection of the company’s personnel. View index note for names.

The forth series is the Media Series, which is further organized in five subseries: 1. VHS Tapes, 2. Beta-cam Tapes, 3. DVD/CD Disks, 4. Audio Tapes, and 5. Film Reels.

Subseries 1. includes copies of documentaries about Civil Air Transport, Air America, the Ravens, the Fall of Dien Bien Phu, and the Secret War in Laos; and oral history interviews.

Subseries 2. contains copies of documentaries about Civil Air Transport, Air America, the Ravens, the Fall of Dien Bien Phu, and the Secret War in Laos; and oral history interviews.

Subseries 3. covers oral history interviews, documentaries, and a celebration of life of Jack “Smitty” Smith.

Subseries 4. encloses oral history interviews.

Subseries 5. comprises reel-to-reel moving images. Topics are airfields, airplanes, landscapes, people, Hong Kong, Haiphong, Saigon, refugees, home movies, and L. Willauer from the Capt. Stayner Collection.

The fifth series is the CAT Negatives Collection Series. The index of topics gives reference to the image number assigned by the company and covers CAT’s business locations, personnel, aircraft, airfield, maintenance, missions, activities, VIPs, and social life in Southeast Asia.

The sixth series is the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Series, which is further organized in two subseries: 1. McGovern/Buford Recovery of Remains and 2. Robert C. Snoddy Recovery of Remains.

Subseries 1. contains correspondence, clippings, ephemera, reports, photocopies of photographs, photoprints of the C-119’s propeller, and the recovery report CIL 2002-161-I-01, James B. McGovern, Jr. U.S. Civilian.

Subseries 2. encloses the recovery report CIL 2004-096 Robert Charles Snoddy U.S. Civilian.

The seventh series is the Maps Series, which is further organized in two subseries: 1. Raised-relief Maps and 2. Aeronautical Charts.

Subseries 1. Holds the AMS Series L509P Edition 1-AMS. Areas covered are Southeast Asia, particularly Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as China.

Subseries 2. has DOD Evasion Charts, DOD Special Southeast Asia Tactical VFR Chart, Joint Operations Graphic (Air) charts, USAF Operational Navigation Charts, USAF Pilotage Charts, Special Air Operations Charts SEASIA, Tactical Pilotage Charts; maps from Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, and a map of all the Lima Sites (LS) in Laos.

The eighth series is the Ephemera and Memorabilia Series. Highlights are the piastre de commerce from the French Republic, a currency used in French Indochina from the late nineteen hundreds to about the Second World War; CAT promotional posters; a CAT travel bag; flight schedules; a commemorative stamp celebrating the 40th anniversary of CAT in China; a Sikorsky (S-58) HUS-1 airplane model, various CAT Curtiss C-46 Commando airplane models, and a Convair 880 Mandarin Jet airplane model; an Air America helicopter helmet; a reproduction of the Air America bell that hung at the Air America Bar in Udorn, Thailand; various plaques from the 2nd Air Division South East Asia and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing for support in search and rescue missions and services rendered; the Air America tontine accompanied by an agreement; Air America dinnerware; various Chinese and Japanese stoneware bowls; an Air America banner; a round wooden relief of a dragon and a phoenix; and a scroll depicting warriors in different battle scenes.

Dates

  • 1896 - 2016
  • Majority of material found within 1945 - 1975

Language of Materials

Collection is in English, French, Lao, Thai, and Chinese.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish material from this collection in any form, current or future, must be obtained from the Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Historical Sketch

After World War II, Civil Air Transport (CAT) was founded as a private airline by Gen. Claire Lee Chennault and Whiting Willauer in China. In addition to being a commercial airline, CAT supported the Chinese Nationalist Party lead by Chiang Kai-Shek in their fight against communism. Chennault recruited pilots from the American Volunteer Group (AVG) who flew from Burma and India over the Himalayas to China, also known as Flying the Hump.

By the late 1940s, Chennault contacted the United States State Department, offering his company to have a presence in Southeast Asia. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was in favor of such a plan. Later, it was decided to incorporate the company in Delaware, in order to obscure the direct involvement of the United States government. Thus, CAT became the primary company to move passengers and goods in Southeast Asia.

CAT also supported the French in the First Indochina War at the battle of Dien Bien Phu. During the Korean War, CAT supported the United States' war effort by transporting materiel, conducting reconnaissance, and troop movements. Late in the 1950s, CAT was renamed Air America.

The United States government under President John F. Kennedy expressed concerns that Laos would fall under communist rule. The Kennedy Administration, in accordance to the Geneva Accords in 1962, moved all troops from Laos to the neighboring countries. However, the North Vietnamese undermined the agreement by using Laos, particularly the Ho Chi Minh Trail, to move materiel and soldiers to South Vietnam. The United States used Air America to counter such efforts by conducting reconnaissance, search and rescue missions, humanitarian aid, and troop movement.

By the end of the 1960s, President Richard Nixon increased the war efforts in Laos. The CIA trained Hmong and Thai soldiers to fight against the North Vietnamese. Air America had its base in the largest airport at the time, in Long Tieng, or Lima Site 20 Alternate (LS-20A), supporting the CIA and the other United States forces with missions, materiel, and personnel.

In April of 1975, the Vietnam War found its end with the fall of Saigon. Once more, Air America supported the other United States forces by taking up refugees, both in fixed wing and rotor wing aircraft, to fly them to safety. The most famous photograph representing these events, taken by the late Dutch photographer Hugh Van Es, captures the scene where a CIA employee helps refugees into an Air America helicopter on top of an elevator shaft of the Pitman apartment complex.

Sources

Source
Allen, Cates, “Air America. An Historical Synopsis From the Beginning to End.” Air America, accessed: 8 April 2019, https://www.air-america.org/air-america-history.html
Source
Associated Press, “Photographer behind iconic Saigon image dies. Picture of people climbing to helicopter became metaphor for U.S. failure.” Asia-Pacific on NBC News, accessed: 8 April 2019, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/30755090/ns/world_news-asia_pacific/t/photographer-behind-iconic-saigon-image-dies/

Extent

83.61 Linear Feet (Four record center boxes, twelve manuscript boxes, ten video storage boxes (8.5x17.5x5.0), three photo print boxes (5.5x7.5x12.0), six beta-cam boxes (11.0x15.5x6.5), four CD boxes long (5.5x6.0x12.5), two CD boxes short (5.0x5.0x6.0), sixteen audio/film canisters small (7.25x1.0), twenty negative storage boxes (5.5x12.0x4.5), one photo album box (18.0x13.0x5.0), one memorabilia box (12.5x19.0x2.0), one hat box small (11.0x11.0x7.0), one non-standard box (8.75x10.75x3.0), one non-standard box (11.5x15.0x3.0), one non-standard box (18.5x14.5x3.0), one non-standard box shallow lid (17.5x12.0x4.0), one non-standard box (25.0x19.0x2.5), four non-standard boxes (31.0x23.0x3.0), one carton (21.0x21.0x13.5), one object (21.0x15.0x4.0), one object (24.0x2.0), one flat-file folder (38.0x25.0), and two flat-file folders (60.0x24.0).)

Abstract

The Civil Air Transport (CAT) and Air America Association Collection is an artificial collection covering the involvement of the company in Southeast Asia, particularly during the Vietnam War and the Secret War in Laos.

Series Description

The Civil Air Transport (CAT) and Air America Association Collection is arranged in eight series:

Series I. Various Materials Collection 3.7 linear ft. (four manuscript boxes, five manuscript folders, and one non-standard box), 1946-2017.

Arranged by topic.

Series II. Reunions 5.3 linear ft. (two manuscript boxes, one flat-file folder, one video storage box, one VHS tape, two beta-cam tapes, one object, and twenty-one disks), 1988-2016.

Arranged in three subseries: 1. CAT, 2. Air America, and 3. Air America Reunion Yearbooks from the Duane Keele Collection at Texas Tech University Vietnam Center and Archive.

Subseries 1. CAT 2.9 linear ft. (two manuscript boxes, one flat-file folder, and four disks), 1988-2016.

Arranged chronologically.

Subseries 2. Air America 1.9 linear ft. (one video storage box, one VHS tape, two beta-cam tapes, one object, one manuscript folder, and two disks), 1995-2014.

Arranged chronologically.

Subseries 3. Air America Reunion Yearbooks from the Duane Keele Collection at Texas Tech University Vietnam Center and Archive 0.5 linear ft. (fifteen disks), 1988-1999.

Arranged by topic.

Series III. Personal History of Air America Employees 0.1 linear ft. (one manuscript folder), 1985-1990.

Arranged by topic.

Series IV. Media 22.8 linear ft. (eight video storage boxes, nineteen VHS tapes, two photo print boxes, four beta-cam boxes, ten beta-cam tapes, seven disks, one CD box small, and fifteen audio/film canisters), 1975-2009.

Arranged in five subseries: 1. VHS Tapes, 2. Beta-cam Tapes, 3. DVD/CD Disks, 4. Audio Tapes, and 5. Film Reels

Subseries 1. VHS Tapes 6.7 linear ft. (eight video storage boxes and nineteen VHS tapes), 1987-2008.

Arranged by topic.

Subseries 2. Beta-cam Tapes 6.0 linear ft. (two photo print boxes, four beta-cam boxes, and ten beta-cam tapes), 1996-2004.

Arranged by topic.

Subseries 3. DVD/CD Disks 0.1 linear ft. (seven disks), 2004-2009.

Arranged by topic.

Subseries 4. Audio Tapes 0.4 linear ft. (one CD box small), 1975-1998.

Arranged by topic.

Subseries 5. Film Reels 9.6 linear ft. (sixteen audio/film canisters), Undated.

Arranged by topic.

Series V. CAT Negatives Collection 10.3 linear ft. (twenty negative storage boxes, four manuscript boxes, one CD box small, and six manuscript folders), 1955-1965.

Arranged by topic.

Series VI. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command 0.3 linear ft. (four manuscript folders), 1998-2006.

Arranged in two subseries: 1. McGovern/Buford Recovery of Remains and 2. Robert C. Snoddy Recovery of Remains.

Subseries 1. McGovern/Buford Recovery of Remains 0.2 linear ft. (three manuscript folders), 1998-2006.

Arranged by topic.

Subseries 2. Robert C. Snoddy Recovery of Remains 0.1 linear ft. (one manuscript folder), 2005-04-16.

Arranged by topic.

Series VII. Maps 15.8 linear ft. (six non-standard boxes, two oversize folders, and three manuscript folders), 1954-1973.

Arranged in two subseries: 1. Raised-relief Maps and 2. Aeronautical Charts

Subseries 1. Raised-relief Maps 10.0 linear ft. (four non-standard boxes), 1954-1962.

Arranged by topic.

Subseries 2. Aeronautical Charts 5.8 linear ft. (two non-standard boxes, two oversize folders, and three manuscript folders), 1966-1973.

Arranged by topic.

Series VIII. Ephemera and Memorabilia 28.7 linear ft. (one carton, four record center boxes, one hat box small, one memorabilia box, three CD boxes long, one beta-cam box, one non-standard box, one photo album box, one photo print box, one oversize folder, one manuscript folder, two flat-file folders, and two objects), 1896-2013.

Arranged by topic.

Provenance Statement

The Civil Air Transport (CAT) and Air America Association Collection is an artificial collection comprised of multiple collections from the Civil Air Transport/Air America Archives. Provenance could only partially be established. Where possible the identified parts were pulled and consolidated with their respective collections.

Additional Sources

Additional information can be found in the History of Aviation Archives in the following collections:

Civil Air Transport/Air America Archives and at The Vietnam Center and Archive at the Texas Tech Universtiy in Lubbock, Texas.

Image ID

It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission from copyright holders of materials to which this institution does not own copyright.

Images in this collection are identified by a unique number that provides information about the format, record group, collection, series, box, folder, and image numbers. Please use this number when ordering reproductions of images from this collection.

Record Group Code

1 = CAT/Air American Archives

2 = Doolittle Archives

3 = Lighter than Air Archives

4 = George H. Williams, Jr., World War I Aviation Library

5 = History of Aviation Archives

6 = University Archives

7 = HAC Stacks

8 = WPRL Stacks

9 = Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Collection

10 = Belsterling Collection

11 = Closed Stacks

12 = Unidentified

13 = Chance Vought Archives

14 = Twirly Birds Archives

Image Format Code

P = Photograph/Postcard

S = Slide

N = Negative

T = Positive Transparency

B = Black and White

C = Color

Example: 1CAT-1-1-PB1

1 = CAT/Air American Archives

CAT= Civil Air Transport (CAT) and Air America Association Collection

= Series Number

1 = Box Number

1 = Folder Number

P = Photograph/Postcard

B = Black and White

1 = Image Number

Images archived in plastic image holders may also have a location code in the format: 1/TL. In this example, the number is the sheet number and the letters indicate the top left position on the sheet. Position indicators are T = top, L = left, R = right, M = middle, and B = bottom. Position indicators may be combined to describe the position on the sheet, as shown in this example.

Note to the Researcher

Image ID numbers assigned in earlier processing projects do not correspond with the current box and folder numbers.

As materials are identified, they will be pulled from this collection and consolidated with their respective collection.

Materials Removed List

The audio tape Charles Barton in Box 25, Cassette 3 was removed from this collection, since this is its own collection. View the Charles Barton Collection CA070-98.

Three VHS tapes of oral history interviews, Jake Wehrell (Box 14, Tape 8), Bruce Jachens (Box 12, Tape 5), and Terry Luther (Box 12, Tape 12) were removed from this collection, since they form their own collection. View the Daniel L. Parker Collection CA073-98.
Title
Guide to the Civil Air Transport (CAT) and Air America Association Collection, 1945-1975
Status
Completed
Author
Patrizia Nava, CA
Date
2019-05-07
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English (eng)
Edition statement
First revision by Patrizia Nava, CA. 2018-12-06. Second revision by Patrizia Nava, CA. 2019-04-09.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Archives. Repository

Contact:
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Richardson Texas 75080 US
972-883-2570
972-883-4590 (Fax)