|SINGAPORE PROPLINERS 1975
A selection of photographs I took on my first visit to SE Asia during September 1975.
Being only months after the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia, many piston-engined transport aircraft previously operated
by civilian contractors on military and humanitarian aid in that area had been evacuated to Seletar Airport, Singapore
|A pleasing sight from the 707 window on arrival at the old Paya Lebar Airport, Singapore was this Lockheed Electra N5514
leased by Airtrust Singapore to carry workers to the Middle East, prior to delivery of ex-Cathay Pacific CV880s later that year
Seletar Airport was previously RAF Seletar on the northern coast of Singapore island. The vast former military parking areas
comfortably handled the evacuated civil contract aircraft from the war zone. Typical was this Convair 240 N8329C with
previous operator's tail insignia roughly painted over. Behind are the Straits of Johore, dividing Singapore from Malaysia.
This Convair ditched in those waters only a week after I took this photograph. It was conducting a test flight after being parked
since its arrival here four months earlier, when power loss airborne forced the crew to ditch offshore.
Owned by Bill Taylor of California, It was being operated in SE Asia under the name Asiatic International Airways
|Curtiss C-46 Commandos of Continental Air Services Inc (CASI) N335CA, N336CA and N337CA were at Seletar following
their evacuation from operations in Laos and Cambodia. All were previously upgraded to the Riddle Airways C-46R version.
N336CA shows the effect of tropical weather on the paintwork
|Another CASI aircraft retired here was DC-3 N7302, previously Trans Australia Airlines' VH-SBC
|Douglas DC-6B N54CA was one of three Sixes operated by Bird Air in the war zones on contracts under US Aid. They were
among the last aircraft to leave Saigon overloaded with refugees on April 19 that year while under shell and rocket attack.
William H. Bird was a US earthmoving contractor whose company Bird & Sons constructed roads and runways in Laos in 1950s.
He remained in Laos competing with Air America for flying contracts for the US CIA on clandestine operations with types as
diverse as PV-2 Harpoons, C-46s, Twin Pioneers and STOL Porters and Helio Couriers. In 1965 Bird sold out to
Continental Air Services Inc (CASI) but re-appeared in 1970s as Bird Air, with the three DC-6Bs transferred from Iran Airlines,
which was also CIA-backed. Bird Air also provided contract pilots to fly de-identified USAF C-130s on classified missions in Vietnam.
That's Bill Bird's personal Beech Twin Bonanza N9316Y parked behind. These days it lives in Sydney as VH-MEC.
|Another Bird Air DC-6B N56CA evacuated to Seletar, still in Iran Airlines paint scheme.
|This Beagle Airedale was an unexpected sight, parked with the heavy metal
With neat curtains at the passenger windows, Conoco's N535M was one of a number of oil company DC-3s based at Seletar.
This immaculate aircraft's previous base was Libya with Amerada Petroleum Corp and later returned to Malta
|USAF disposals Grumman HU-16 Albatross N16HU (ex 51-7206) had been ferried from USA to Seletar, where it was to
carry workers for ocean drilling rigs in the area. Three were used in this role a few years later, but this aircraft was scrapped
|Thai company Sahakol Air. also operating as Air Alliance, was another CIA contractor with DC-3s and C-46s.
|Sheltering under Bird Air DC-6B N27CA when the daily afternoon monsoonal rain downpour arrived
|Another Sahakol Air DC-3 evacuated to Seletar was N11AF
Convair 440 N999TZ of the Tri-9 Corporation had just had its former Air Cambodge markings painted over roughly in white.
Tri-9 Corp at Seletar purchased long-retired Garuda Convairs from Jakarta and leased Convairs to other SE Asian operators.
However this particular aircraft was purchased from Finnair as OH-LRC, which could be read in the metal under the wings
|After a spell in the military police office explaining that I must have missed the large No Photography signs at the entrance gate,
this was my last furtive shot of the day, through the taxi window. Sempati Air Transport DC-3 PK-JDG had been purchased
from RAAF ex A65-85 by Sempati co-founder, American Stanley Booker. He also operated many DC-3s in Cambodia