The home of everything related to Twin Navion and Camair aircraft
N229 with Birds & Sons, Inc. in Laos, 1961.
Photo courtesy of Fred Garcia
These comments were part of a letter by Fred Garcia that appeared in Air-Britain's Digest in 2002.
"I would like to add some information on the Camair 480 Twin Navion, which was, apparently, located in Laos by Birds
& Sons. A gentleman appeared at the Camair facility, I believe late in 1960 or early '61, and expressed his desire
to purchase a Camair Twin Navion. At that time, a new aircraft was not available and a delivery time was several
months in the future. The gentleman then looked around and asked about one of the Camairs on the ramp, which
happened to be the demonstrator. Within a very short time, a deal was struck and he and the airplane were gone. The
aircraft, seen in the accompanying photo taken in Laos in 1961, was flown across the South Atlantic to Africa, on to
India, and from there to SE Asia. A long-range ferry tank had to be installed, which brought the total fuel capacity
up to 210 (US) gallons. The aircraft was a 1956 model, serial number 1-066 (US Reg N229). It had a pair of
Continental O-470B engines of 240hp each. A number of Air America pilots flew the aircraft, among them the division
Head of Operations, Mr. Ken Oliver, a very good friend of mine. The aircraft was lost one afternoon while on a
routine trip with the pilot and three observers en route to the Plain of Jars area. Parts of the aircraft were
reported to have been seen in Hanoi. I was unable to find anything on one of my trips to Vietnam, some years later."
The following synopis was compiled by the Homecoming II Project on June 30, 1990.
"Special Forces Sgt. Raymond Parks and a Thai interpreter were aboard a Camair Navion aircraft, tail number N229,
flown by Alan Blewett on July 14, 1962. The aircraft, owned and operated by B.I. Bird & Sons Company, was flying a
U.S. Government contract mission inside Laos. On that day, the Navion was on a flight from Vientianne to Saravane,
"Parks was working in the Whitestar operation, which, depending on the time frame, trained and advised the Forces
Armees de Royaume, staffed Laotian military schools, and conducted Meo and Kha unconventional warfare programs. At
times Whitestar personnel worked under the aupices of the CIA, training Meo 100-man "Auto Defense de Choc" (shock)
teams to be dispersed throughout the highlands to ambush and raid Pathet Laos forces, and at other times were the
"eyes and ears" of MAAG, gathering intelligence and reporting how equipment and supplies were being used. By July,
1962, Whitestar had reached its peak strength of 433 uniformed Spcial Forces personnel.
"When Blewett's aircraft failed to arrive at its interim stop at Pak Sane as scheduled, a communications check was
initiated, with no response. Aerial and ground searches were initiated, including visits along the suspected flight
path. No trace was ever found of the aircraft or its crew."