LAOS: Historic & extreme Bushflying

1962-74 the CIA operated a clandestine Airline called “Air America” in this rugged country with a bewildering array of STOL-planes, Old Props & Choppers. And there were the “Ravens” - a secret outfit flying Cessna spotters and North American trainers. And sometimes the mysterious An-2s from the Bad Guys came out of the low hanging clouds …
It existed a network of hundreds of airstrips called Lima Sites (LS) for air-supply, a lot pretty extreme (ultra-short and 30° slopes). Beaucoup of YT vids available.

You might want to pass the STOL-Academy first to be prepared for the job
The Gotgravel STOL Academy at Squamish, BC (CYSE) » Microsoft Flight Simulator

I want to re-enact over time some of the missions thru a variety of PLNs - hope modders jump in for lotsa strips.



#1 Secrets in the Jars:

The PDJ was a contested plateau with strips all around it:
Plain of Jars - Wikipedia
based on this very incomplete list I have created a round trip:
List of covert sites of the Laotian Civil War - Wikipedia
It includes the famous central Long Tieng hub (great mod on the .to - I have no problems with SU6, pic1 Laos - Long Tieng scenery pack (3 airfields) » Microsoft Flight Simulator ) and infamous Lost Mountain LS85.
After 50 years some LS are still visible, others are gone, but you always find a surrogate spot nearby:
LAOS_1_pdj_ls.pln (4.0 KB)

1 Like

Fascinating read to look at the history, interesting project. I’ll take a look at the locations in the sim and see if the general quality of the scenery in the area is worth developing.

Generally the region looks good. Leave it with me for a couple of weeks and I’ll populate the airstrips for everyone to use.



Pigs can Fly:

An IFR-flight (“I follow river”) with a Big Prop way up north. You are to para-drop hundreds of living pigs into the villages along the Nam Ou river to win the hearts & minds of the populace.
Drop from 300ft AGL and 110kt max - the locals expects the animals to be alive and not pork chop!
No Bad Guys around as in the film (“I’m not gonna die dropping pigs from the sky! Not gonna happen!”), the challenge is to follow the valley low & slow.
The stench in the plane is unbearable so open the side windows first…
LAOS_2_pigs.PLN (5.0 KB)

End point Phongsali at the time was just “a dirt strip on which man-eating tigers roamed so they had to be killed using chickens stuffed with grenades as bait” (Chr. Robbins).


Dipped Sheep

Feb 1975: Two years ago the Americans officially had to pull out of the country. Now the jig is up - the fellows in the black pyjamas have won and are approaching from the northeast.
A last minute evacuation of the CIA’s old allies, the Hmong mountain tribe is improvised: “Sheep Dipped” i.e. unmarked planes & disguised pilots shuttle them south towards the safety of Thailand.

Your job with the Porter: rescue personnel trapped high in the karst mountains. This time its no Lima Sites just uncharted patches to land on…

Two PLNs: east & west of the Route 13 connecting Luang Prabang & Vang Vieng.
LAOS_4_sheep_east.PLN (3.7 KB)
LAOS_4_sheep_west.PLN (3.8 KB)

1 Like

Senator Class:

1971: You take Senator Daverport on a Laos inspection & scenic tour along the beautiful Mekong Valley.
When using “Live Weather” be aware of the notorious morning river fog (locally called “Le Crachin” i.e. spittle) that dissolves late (and is sim-modelled, kudos to the new Metar!):

After dropping him at VLXL (where you did book him @ the famous White Rose Hotel for a reason…) continue with your business:
deliver & load herbal products popular with Americans in SEA: used for incense sticks & traditional relaxation medicine. Stopovers take you into Birma, Northern Thailand and finally at sunset to Bangkok:

LAOS_3_g_triangle.PLN (7.2 KB)

Flight is in the Air America King Air (from the .to) - a good avatar of the Beech Volpars used at the time.

Street without Joy

This flight dates back to the early 50ies when Laos was part of the colony “Indochina” - where the French fought freedom fighters and used the Ju-52 as the backbone of their transport squadrons.
LAOS_ju_52.PLN (2.1 KB)

Fly to Lang Son and Cao Bang (try to land at them?) along Road #4, through beautiful karst hills, scene of a french fiasco at the time:
Continue along a WSW-heading, over green mountains that the pilots of a later time called “Thud Ridge”.
Endpoint is Dien Bien Phu, the famous fortress & final nail in the french coffin. In the sim the strip is strangely grass- overgrown, like so many remote airports. :roll_eyes:

Early days for King and Country
In 1961 Americans supplied the fledgling Royal Lao Airforce with Asobo T-6s (later replaced by T-28).
With it (or any other bushplane) you are to check out possible landing spots (the WPs, mainly village roads) in central Laos.
Laos_6_karst.PLN (3.9 KB)

The current DEM does a reasonable job of the beautiful, cave-filled limestone mountains and canyons you are passing through.

Un empire profonde:

From 1919-40 the French did take advantage of aviation a lot in Laos, a backyard of their colony Indochina.

Besides transport and aerial mapping, planes were used to quell rebellions, demonstrate white dominance, bribe local nobles with firsts flights and as a show of force against the free Kingdom of Siam (today Thailand):

Here you fly along the Thai border and land on dirt roads and dry rice-paddies near the Mekong river to pick up village chiefs for their sightseeing “baptême de l’air”.
When you leave the Mekong southbound (after WP5) on your border patrol, always follow the escarpment, ending in french Cambodia.
LAOS_7_mekong.PLN (2.8 KB)

French planes of the period had a multi-role focus - resulting in a wild bunch of bizarre looking crates (Wikipedia):

So as avatars take the Fokker VII (for 1920s) or Ju-52 (30s)…

1 Like

Bumping this thread as there are now planes and liveries available for @RegentFalke4131 's flight plans

Raven FAC: livery for the Blackbox Bird Dog

Air America livery for the Asobo Porter

Air America livery for Carenado / Asobo Beech 18

1 Like


this is in memory of two airmen downed 6 years apart over Laos (plus their rescuers and opponents) - who both made it into movies:





Here you fly along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the Laos panhandle:
LAOS_8_raven_trail.PLN (6.0 KB)

Its a condensation of clandestine missions by STOL planes in the so called “Steel Tiger” area: O-1, O-2, Porters, Twotters etc.

Landing on CIA run Montagnard (hill tribe) outposts (LZ), do low-level recon, forward air control and SAR-coordination.

Start from freeware Lima Site 407 and meet the free Puff-the-Magic-Dragon over Khe San:

For more re-enacting those days - a Skyraider is already in the making, lets hope for a Jolly Green.
On a sideline - only veteran simmers might remember this addon for MSFS (sic!):

and lets see if this project ever works out:


And for owners of the BlackBox Cessna Bird Dog , there is a livery on for the Raven Forward Air Controllers (FACs) who operated over Laos -

1 Like

Enjoying these historical tours in the Caribou. Nice work, ty!

1 Like

Check out Air America Rescue Mission To Tango 7 MS FlightSim - YouTube

1 Like

… my plan for the next Laos posting was about historic North-Vietnamese incursions with the Antonov AN-2, but as its delayed will go for the AA DHC-4 (great livery BTW).
We need more of the old Lima-Sites in the sim, I have lotsa original data, but unfortunately am too dumb to create it myself. So if some able modder is interested - contact me.

1 Like

The authors of the existing Lima site mods can be contacted over on - their ‘tags’ are “CCIP” & “smwwwin”, just drop them a message in the chat. Whack “lima” or “laos” into the main search box and you’ll find them.

1 Like

now that we are on it - as a tribute those modders strips:
here comes an easy (except the 37mm AAA…) Caribou flight. In the infamous morning mist go along the Mekong, get passengers in Sayaboury…
‎Air America Caribou in Sayabouri - UWDC - UW-Madison Libraries (
…on to the Karst of Vang Vieng, Long Tieng , the PDJ and up north.

LAOS_9_caribou.PLN (3.5 KB)

Creating realistic LS that blend in the vegetation nicely and are sloped (as most were) is time-consuming. And the the next WU might kill the effort…

have fun in the Land of the Million Elephants!


Hey all,

just a heads up about a newly released Lima Site 85 scenery.

I missed it when flying Caribou in this region so I made my own version. Hope you like it!


Nicely done!

Tight strip, but doable with the right tool👍

Cliff drop for take off is fun, but a little dodgy!


The last dogfight of a biplane

Flying over Laos was not one-sided: the North-Vietnamese came in with Antonov An-2s used as transports, liaison, bombers & gunships.

Here you re-enact such a “Colt” flight: starting in North-Vietnam, entering northern Laos, following the Ma River and landing on 13 LZs:
villages under Pathet Lao control and mountain AAA positions dreaded by US pilots.
Short, sloped and difficult as any of those of Air America.

Arrival is LS85 which was just captured…

…and brought to sim-life by the uppermentioned addon by Apollon01.

LAOS_10_an2.PLN (4.8 KB)