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Upper Deck Member
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Location: Stratford, CT.
Occupation: Police Officer (retired)
|#42040 03-25-2012 GMT-5 hours|
Since the original "LS" post, a few new items have been found, so I thought it was time for an update. What turned out to be Royal Air Lao's 3rd and final color scheme was pretty much doomed for a short life even before the paint was dry....
The Kingdom Of Laos had been a Protectorate in the former French Indo-china from 1893-1945.
They had been used as a 'buffer' against the British influence (Cambodia & Burma).
The French withdrawal from Indo-China in 1954, in hindsight, doomed the country to the Communist eventual takeover. The 3-Elephant symbol dated back to the literal translation of Laos (Lan-Xang) 'Land of a Million Elephants'.
Royal Air Lao was created with 90% government ownership in 1961. DC-3's and (1) DC-4 were initially used.
(running an airline with the normal 'rainy' season would have been difficult enough, never mind an added armed conflict!)
This image shows the 1st Royal Air Lao color scheme, using 'script-style' titles and the Laotian flag on the tail. (3) B-307's, (1) C-46 and C-47's (lsd from Aigle-Azur) were part of the early fleet used on domestic service and to Saigon, Bangkok and Hong Kong, beginning in 1962.
In 1968, an alteration to the titles was seen with new larger 'block-type' letters replacing the 'script-style'.
The Red edged in thin White window stripe was widened a bit. In 1969-70, the Laotian government took over (2) smaller airlines, Lao Airlines and Lao United Airlines. This would bring (2) new A/C to Royal Air Lao, an ex-BEA Viscount (XW-TDN), which kept the Lao Airlines color scheme.
An ex-TEAL DC-6 (XW-DKJ) was re-painted in full Royal Air Lao colors, sadly the DC-6 was lost in a fatal accident while on lease to PENAS-Indonseia in 1972.
This loss, plus a series of previous fatal accidents brought about the search for an updated A/C and this search would end in the lease of (2) ex-T.A.A. L-188's (from a Nevada Leasing co.) in 1972.
XW-PKA arrived first on June 12, 1972 "Tiao Anou". The 2nd L-188 (XW-PKB) "Tiao Khoun Boulom" arrived on July 18th and both were quickly placed into service.
(-PKA shown. White spinners were added soon after entering service)
Royal Air Lao's 1970's Routes would remain unchanged as fighting was about to increase in-country with U.S. attacks on the Ho Chi Minh Trail (within Laotian borders). On March 29, 1973, Royal Air Lao's 2nd L-188 (-PKB) would have it's most famous moment in history, when it became the 'Press' plane for journalists to go to Hanoi, as the 1st large POW exchange was about to take place.
(CBS newsman Walter Cronkite was aboard)
This close-up shows that the 2nd L-188 had thin White stripe edging on the cheatline that the 1st did not.
By 1973, the war within Laos was beginning to have an effect on the airline. By the end of 1973, the 1st L-188 (-PKA) was taken out of service to be cannibalized for parts to keep the 2nd A/C flying. Most if not all the Electra pilots were expatriates on 2-3 yr contracts.
(the Captain [center] wears a non-descript Gray uniform w/o rank or wings)
The Royal Air Lao Flight Attendants wore a Red traditional Asian-style dress uniform.
In 1974, the airline introduced what would be their final scheme, with a new 'rounded' type of titles and a new style logo (still with the 3-Elephants).
The new logo would appear within the window stripe at the front.
The remaining L-188 also got the new look!
(now back to no White edging on the Red Window stripe!)
For Royal Air Lao, the 'la creme de la creme' would appear in the summer of 1974!
A leased Air France Caravelle 3 was needed as plans were being worked out to add China (Canton) to Royal Air Lao's Route Map, along with Kuala Lumpur and Singapore (it's ironic that their route map was expanding as their own fate was coming to an end....)
The UN also contracted the Caravelle for 'Refugee' flights, as the Communists was closing in on the capital Vientiane. A planned late addition to the fleet was an-ex-Garuda CV-440 (XW-PJZ), lsd from Tri-9 Corp. (Cambodia). Clint Groves has a nice photo of it on AirlineFan.com. Though fully painted, it is believed not to have made it into service?
In December 1975, the Pathet Lao troops entered Vientiane, the King abdicated, Laos become the 1st 'Domino' under Hanoi control and Royal Air Lao ceased to exist........John3 (Thanks to Chuck Gowing/Airlinecolors.com, Airview/www.flightsafety.org, AussieAirliners.net, Armchairgeneral.com, World Statesmen.org, Bjorn Larsson/Timetableimages.com, www.aictpl.fr & rnzaf.proboards.com. Photographers: Christian Volpati, Peter Gates, Peter Lewis via Allen Wooler & Terry Waddington).
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