Aero Commader 560

The Aero Commander was a gift from the US President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the Lao King for use as a VIP transport. The King seldom flew in the Aero Commander, as his seat was not in an elevated, regal position.

The Aero Commander 560 supplied to Laos has been identified as c/n 560-214. It received a US C. of A. on Apr 13, 1955, being registered as N2714B. On May 31, '14B was delivered to Johnson Air Interests, Inc., Racine, WI. On December 14, it was formally registered to Air Carrier Service Corp., Washington, DC. The C of A was renewed on January 6, 1956, by which time a total of 238:25 hours had been flown. In February 1956, it was delivered to the Royal Lao Government. The aircraft was flown by the air force on behalf of the King for a while, before being formally transferred to Royal Lao Air Force ownership.

Delivery was handled by the Programs Evaluation Office (PEO). The PEO was run through the US Embassy in Vientiane, and was responsible for the delivery of war materials, including aircraft, to Laos.

Interestingly, the US registration wasn't cancelled until February 21, 1974, as sold to Laos! Apparently, the Aero Commander survived the war, and was issued an RDPL registration. On September 4, 1981, the civil registration N92619 was issued to the Aero Commander. The owner was J.D. Melvin Co., at Glendale, CA. N92619 was not taken up, but the registration is still valid on the USCAR! (US civil registrations were also issued on September 4, 1981 for Viscount RDPL-34016 c/n 294, C-46D RDPL-34040 and DC-4 XW-PNI/RDPL-34003 c/n 10420 to the J.D. Melvin Co.)

One other AC560 associated with Laos, c/n 560-216, was ordered as L-26A s/n 55-3815 on USAF contract AF29616 on behalf of the US Army. However, it briefly operated with the civil registration N2716B. On Jun 29, 1955, it was delivered to the US Army, after a short interlude as a civil aircraft. Apparently, it was to be supplied to the "Royal Lao Government US Army Operations Saigon Vietnam"! However, it was never delivered, as it crashed on July 10, 1955 near Enid, PA.

Note: Leeker's Air America list erroneously gives the Lao Aero Commander as being p/i USAF 55-2714, c/n 560-216. This Aero Commander supposedly carried the RLAF s/n "2714" (which wasn't a L-26A/U-4). Note, the designation L-26A was changed to U-4 in 1962.