Seaboard in Laos

During the years 1950 to 1976, the U.S. government owned Air America, an airline it used to support covert operations in Asia for the C.I.A. and for other government agencies, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). From 1954 to 1964, it conducted such operations in Laos. According to an extensive history of Air America in Laos, in 1964, George Doole, the CEO of America approached Seaboard to "lend their name to the formation of a new airline to be financed by the CIA. The new company was to be called Seaboard World Services (SWS) and to lease aircraft from Air America ..." 1 

According to an article in The New York Times, dated March 19, 1964, 2 

"Premier Souvanna Phouma said Seaboard would be under contract to the Laotian Government. He declared it would be used only to supply the necessities of life, and would not transport military equipment."

At least two Air America Helio Couriers, six-seat light aircraft designed for short takeoffs and landings (STOL), were painted with SWS markings. However, on June 20, 1964, John Davidson, the designated president of SWS, was killed in an air crash. SWS had difficulty getting organized, and the operation was abandoned.

The articles referenced provide no indication that Seaboard's involvement was any more than allowing its name to be used as a cover.


Reference

  1 Leeker, Dr. Joe F. Air America in Laos II – military aid, Library of University of Texas at Dallas, August 24, 2015

  2 U.S. Chartered Airline Ends Laos Job, The New York Times, March 19, 1964.


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