Editor's Note: The following series of pages are copywrited by the author, Don Pepe. Certain parts have been edited for language and approved by the author. For the full and original version of his work, please click on the following web site link:
In the Vietnam War and earlier much of the mission that is today performed by drone aircraft was then done with by small unarmed fixed wing airplanes flown by on-board pilots. Many knew this mission as FAC (Forward Air Control). The Marines termed it TACA (Tactical Aircraft Controller Airborne). Most of the public just called them "spotter planes." The most most numerous and recognizable aircraft model performing this mission was the O-1 Bird Dog, essentially a two seat, single engine Cessna.
The 220th Aviation Company was a U.S. Army Bird Dog unit that flew the border area between the (then) two Vietnams for almost the entire duration of the conflict. The chapters accessed by the link below are small clips from the duty tour of one pilot who served with the 220th from December, 1967 to August, 1969. If this sort of thing interests you feel free to enjoy and to share. The material is copyrighted; so if you plan to make a buck with any of it, contact me first. Click here:
Here are sounds clips from actual missions of a 220th Aviation Company pilot recorded in the cockpit on an early consumer tape cassette player.
Sky Pilot was the title combat troops in Vietnam gave to unit chaplains. The name came about because they frequently descended from the sky in a helicopter prior to combat operations to address and bless the troops. They then returned to the sky in the manner they arrived leaving to the men to soon do battle. Eric Burdon and The Animals used the name and mission of the Sky Pilot to ask poignant questions about religion's relationship with war in the 1968 song of that name. The presentation below offers those questions in the context of a different kind of pilot in a different kind of sky.