Hairy Landing Strip

Don Dougan, fellow list member, and I flew for many years into the landing strips in Northern Laos. They were hacked into the mountains by the Hmong and all were short. Some strips had dog legs, humps or bowls or all of the above. One in Phong Saly province ended in a shear drop off of several hundred feet. In early 1970 we evacuated the entire village by air, utilizing mostly Porters.  I allowed each Hmong family to take out a few chickens or a pig. The NVA were closing in so we  overloaded the planes. Gross weight limits were some times doubled. As the Porter reached the end of the strip it would drop a hundred feet or so before getting airborne. When the Porter dropped the Hmong would puke and the pigs would shit. It was a long nasty day with my mustache liberally coated with Tiger Balm.