The Truth Will Set You Free
Bruce Hornsby - Fields of Gray

World’s largest firefighting plane grounded as the West braces for another destructive wildfire season CNN SPECIAL REPORT - April 28, 2021
The last trip of the Supertanker was: FROM - MOSES LAKE, WA TO SAN ANTONIO, TX FRIDAY 28-MAY-2021 12:16PM PDT TILL FRIDAY 28-MAY-2021 05:17PM CDTGlobal Super Tanker 944

World's Largest Firefighting Airplane Battles CA Wildfires
The Colorado Springs-based Global SuperTanker is in the skies over northern California to help extinguish the devastating Camp fire. Sam Tabachnik November 11, 2018
World's only 747 supertanker fights deadly California fires by Kent German / October 10, 2017 9:03 AM PDT

The state of California has enlisted one of the most powerful firefighting tools on the planet: a modified Boeing 747 aircraft that can drop 19,200 gallons of fire retardant.

Built in 1991, the 747-400 first flew for Japan Airlines before being converted to a tanker aircraft in 2012 by its previous owner Evergreen International Airlines. Though the aircraft has been under contract by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection since last month, previous missions have taken it to Chile Israel, Mexico and Spain.

The state of California has enlisted one of the most powerful firefighting tools on the planet: a modified Boeing 747 aircraft that can drop 19,200 gallons of fire retardant.

Fire Aviation - (Updated at 2:40 p.m. MST November 25, 2016)
The 747 Supertanker has been dispatched to Israel to help firefighters on the ground who are dealing with numerous wildfires.
The huge aircraft departed from Colorado Springs, Colorado Thursday at 10 p.m. MST

Posted on June 29, 2016 Fire Aviation News and Opinion 747 Supertanker update
Bill Gabbert/

Global SuperTanker bought the retardant system and the intellectual property formerly owned by Evergreen, the organization that first put it in a 747-100 air tanker.
It now resides in a 747-400 operated by Global SuperTanker which in recent weeks has been going through some of the final stages of installation, testing, and crew training.

Evergreen International Airlines files voluntary Chapter 7 petition on New Year's Eve - By Mike Francis | The Oregonian/OregonLive on January 01, 2014.

Evergreen sale heads to arbitration Staff Writer, December 3, 2015 -Yamhill Valley

The Thunderball Connection to Marana

Evergreen postpones availability of their 747 Supertanker August 22, 2013 by Bill Gabbert

After initially thinking their 747 Supertanker would be available in mid- to late September, Evergreen has reconsidered and expects to have it ready for the 2014 wildfire season.

The U.S. Forest Service awarded the company a Call When Needed contract on June 14, but the aircraft was sitting in Marana, Arizona with the engines removed and safely in storage. After receiving the contract Evergreen scheduled a needed "C" check which would have started August 2 and depending on what was found during the process would have been ready to fly in mid- to late September about the time the western wildfire season begins to wind down. The cost of the "C" check is over a million dollars.

A "C" check is a complete, heavy overhaul; the aircraft is opened up, all inspection panels, seats, galleys, lavs, overhead bins, side-walls and insulation are removed and the aircraft is checked for cracks and out of limit equipment such as hydraulic actuators and bearings.
The brakes and tires are replaced and the aircraft gets washed and polished and comes out looking like new. This usually takes about 3-4 weeks.

747 SUPERTANKER Stays grounded while Colorado Burns - June 28, 2012 by Jack Blood
The more destruction from this massive burn (which may have even been intentionally set? the bigger the problem. Which should require a major Agenda 21 style "solution". Also the lack of response to the Fires has many (Including Bill Kristol) crying over defense spending "cuts" while we continue to provide corp. security guards for the usual suspects. AND ( by the time this is over we'll be "begging them to resume the chemtrailing".)

Evergreen speculates that small business contracting requirements prevented the use of their Supertanker - Posted on June 29, 2012 by Bill Gabbert - Wildfire Today

Please contact your state representatives in Washington DC to demand an examination of their current procurement policies concerning VLAT aircraft. The US Forest Service says it best: "Only YOU can prevent forest fires."
Author Bill Gabbert November 11, 2017 GAO rules against the Forest Service in SuperTanker contracting protest

End of The Innocence.

I had earlier looked at the U.S. Forest Service's operations at the Pinal Air Park, Marana, Arizona and found that there was a cooperative deal between the Forest Service/Government and Evergreen Air where the Forest Service/Government allowed Evergreen to develop, under contract, the Evergreen Supertanker in exchange for allowing the planes to be used for Government Contracts during non-peak fire season. Well, I found that in March 2007 Evergreen discontinued their Supertanker program very abruptly. Several links will give you some of the background of the program that was being developed for fighting western wildfires.

New York Times article - The Iran Pipeline: A Hidden Chapter/A special report.; U.S. Said to Have Allowed Israel to Sell Arms to Iran By SEYMOUR M. HERSH -Published: December 08, 1991

According to former Israeli Government officials, some of the chartered flights carrying American arms for Iran originated from a covert air base near Tucson, Ariz., known as Marana Air Park. For years, the Central Intelligence Agency has used Marana for secret arms shipments. In the mid-1980's, C.I.A. operatives and others used the field for the secret program to resupply the Nicaraguan rebels during the years that Congress had barred aid to the contras. "

See also - Iran Contra Affair (1983 - 1988) - Cold War Museum

Let me dispel some of these rumors that seem to have spread like wildfire. Much of what is said regarding Marana as used only for covert operations in my opinion is just wrong. Let's say that many of the operations carried on early in the history of what might be called "Air America" took place at Marana and continued at least up through the Iran Contra Affair and were conspicuously deceptive, but secret underground facilities and aerial population control and triangular planes just aren't the purpose of Pinal Air Park, it is more a museum to some of more vintage flying history of the U.S. and has been used as a Federal Law Enforcement Officers training facility and one of the training centers by the British Army for "Conversion To Role" training for Apache combat operations.

I have been there on numerous occasions and saw several unusual things but all in defense of our country and its efforts to combat terrorism nothing like what these rumors persist in spreading. I might disagree with many things but I think Marana, at least during the late 1980's and early 1990's reclaimed much of its dignity, if it had lost any at all. And the BONEYARD that is shown in the picture is the one used by Evergreen to refurbish jets.

The rumour is in context below:

EXPOSED !... Evergreen Air Facility... A Secret CIA 'Front Company' for U.S. Chemtrail Operations and More!
'Between 1962 and 1975, we worked on different research-and-development projects out of Marana Airpark, near Tucson, Arizona. Projects we tested included a para-wing with a remote-control device and a parachute with a built-in guidance system that could zero in on a ground frequency system commonly known as a ground-to-air beacon device. Also, we tested the Parachute Impact System, which played a huge role in the secret war in Laos. This parachute allowed the pilot to fly high enough to keep out of range of small-arms fire. We worked with the Forest Service and BLM in support of [combating] wildfire. From New Mexico to Alaska, we worked with the CIA and assisted in airborne training back in Williamsburg, Virginia.'

The reason I got so upset is that by falling behind on the pupose of "firefighting" the Forestry Service using planes for any other purpose has fallen behind on what they should be used for. The outcome is that instead of using the Evergreen Supertanker Boeing 747 with a capacity of 24,000 gallons the DC-10 was being used with a capacity of 12,000 gallons to fight the Malibu Canyon fires in 2007.

Stay up with the controversy as to the biggest and best SUPERTANKER - October 2007 - DC-10 Drop On Arrowhead Fire - Channel 4, KNBC, Los Angeles, CA - Oct. 22, 2007 - DC-10 SUPERTANKER Dropping on Malibu Fire - November 25, 2007

The U.S. Forestry Service and Evergreen Air do not see eye to eye on many things. I am concerned at the time it took for Evergreen to commence it's efforts in it's own backyard.
Evergreens Supertanker spotted on satellite photo

Written by Bill on February 14th, 2011

I found on the front page of yesterdays WILDFIRE TODAY the following:

Update at 11:54 p.m. MT, June 8, 2011 - The wildfires that are now destroying towns have been raging for several weeks and Evergreen's Supertanker is just now joining the fight.

KPHO is reporting that "fire officials" said late Wednesday that they are bringing in the Evergreen 747 Supertanker to assist with the fires. It should arrive Thursday. The aircraft has been sitting at Tucson, so it will be a short 20-25 minute flight to the Wallow fire, if that is where it will be used.

July 2011 - The USFS has refused to put the very large air tankers (VLAT) under exclusive use contracts, and only offered call when needed (CWN) contracts, with no minimum hour or day guarantee, for the DC-10's and the 747, operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier and Evergreen. 10 Tanker reluctantly signed the CWN contract with the USFS, but Evergreen did not.

UPDATE December 5, 2010. Evergreen is sending a Supertanker to Israel that has an 80,000 litre (21133.7641886 Gallons) capacity.

The Israeli Air Force is expecting at least 25 firefighting aircraft, including the American 747 Supertanker, owned by Evergreen (leased for a price of $26,000 an hour). It is expected to land at Ben Gurion International Airport at 4:11 MT today. After crew rest, the 747 may be available for operations on Sunday, if Evergreen's schedule holds up. Some are calling it a BUSH FIRE.

Evergreen Aviation answers Israel's call for help

Boeing 747

The DC-10
  • The California Department of Fire and Forestry negotiated with the builders of a firefighting DC-10 Tanker built and based in Victorville, Ca. Click here to see them in action fighting the California fires. The jumbo jet is the first of its kind built to fight fires. With a 12,000-gallon capacity, it carries 10 times the amount of water or fire retardant as a standard S2T firefighting prop plane.
  • N450AX / 910 (cn 46942/162) The DC-10 is showing once again its versatility.
  • DC-10 at Paris Le Bourget Airshow last year.
  • (CBS) LOS ANGELES "An advocacy group of residents living in the fire-prone mountains above Malibu is campaigning state legislators to rent the world's largest fire retardant-dropping airplane for the upcoming brushfire season". - May 5, 2007
  • Governor's order paves way for Victorville jet to be used to fight fires - Friday, May 11, 2007
  • Jumbo air tanker going online- Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    The Mon-goose and the Spruce-goose tragedy Operation Mongoose

    On one of my trips to Marana with my brother (right) I was able to take a friend, Steve Hodges (left). Neither of us realized we were visiting a secure C.I.A. site. Steve is a Vietnam Veteran, Bronze Star recipient.
    During the early 1990's on a trip up the east coast with my brother I found that he wanted to continue coordinating training and expanding the facility at Marana Air Base to include Air Marshal training along with additional Boarder Patrol Agent training. The air base at Marana was owned and operated by Evergreen, Incorporated, a secure C.I.A. facility that while I was there in the early 1990's trained commercial airline pilots to master the art of "touch and go" landings in large commercial airliners. I saw two such planes perform that exercise while visiting there in the early 1990's. As you can see from this article sent me by my brother "VIP Protection Course Shutdown", it came as a disappointment. He continued working various duties for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

    The following comes from an old webpage for the company RAMCOR. The advertise themselves as being, largest employer and developer of Roleplayer support services for law enforcement agencies. Their work with the U.S. Department of State is summarized:

    RAMCOR Services Group, Inc. (RSG) is a diversified, privately held, woman owned disadvantaged (Native American) SBA 8(a) certified small business which provides management, training and support services to Government agencies, public institutions and private industry. In 1986, Barbara Resley and her husband formed RSG and using their combined expertise, were awarded government service contracts at the Federal Law Enforcement Satellite Training Center (FLETC) located at Marana, AZ. These initial contracts consisted of program management services for the US Customs Office of Saudi Arabian Programs, US Department of State Anti-Terrorist Programs, US Air Marshal Basic and Advanced Programs and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Indian Police Academy training programs. During this time RSG also provided a Spanish Language Training program for US Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

    A Book Review from Hired to Protect: Adventures of a Federal Air Marshal by M. I. Sawyer, 2012

    the Air Marshal training was from the hip at best. The instructors were trying to fit a square ... Reviewed in the United States on March 6, 2015 Interestingly enough, I was a FAA Air Marshal during the same timeframe Madelyn was an Air Marshal and we must have been flying on two different that time we only flew missions on overseas flights, no domestic flights at that time period, the FAA didn't trust the Air Marshal program at that time and we even had to pack our issued firearms in our checked baggage when we travelled domestically to Marana, Arizona for our annual recurrent training....needless to say our issued sidearms were stolen on a "regular basis"...remember that dayglow orange tag was required on each suitcase identifying there was a handgun inside back then....we were FAA US Federal Air Marshals, but could not be armed on a domestic flight when flying to our annual recurrent Air Marshal training!! I had already been a law enforcement officer in a large metropolitan police department and a US federal special agent before joining the FAA Air Marshal program. The Air Marshal training program, by far was the least competent, organized of any of my previous LEO training and was really a gathering of random courses thrown together for FLETC West, IMHO it did not meet the standards/criteria of the basic federal agent training course conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training, Glynco, Georgia, where most of the training is conducted for many US government federal special agents, I know because I attended the two months course at FLTEC Glynco. In 1988, the Federal Air Marshal program did not have a codified/written "deadly force policy" and the program had been up and running since 1985!! The FLETC instructors at Marana, AZ had little or no idea, through not fault of their own, what or how Air Marshals operated on an aircraft....the Air Marshal training was from the hip at best. The instructors were trying to fit a square peg, the FAA Air Marshal program, in a round hole, federal law didn't work well at all....all that said...pretty much fanciful stories for both books.....during my tenure as an FAA Federal Air Marshal, I cannot recall a single stressful law enforcement action taken and I made many more flight missions than my contemporaries....the only real stress was showing up to the air carriers pilot operations office and informing the Captain, First Officer and Flight Attendants that a dozen or so armed Marshals were going to be on the flight, I cannot remember briefing a single Captain who knew in advance the Air Marshals were going to be on the flight....the air carriers almost always dropped that ball......notifying the Captain....that's when the stress really started!!!

    From this article comes the following:

    January 1, 1988 - June 30, 1988

    The enactment of Public Law 99-83 established an explicit statutory basis for the FAA's FAM Program. This statute provided the Secretary of Transportation with the authority to authorize (with the approval of the Attorney General and the Secretary of State) civil aviation security FAM's to carry firearms and to make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony.

    FAM's are recruited as civil aviation security specialists (special agents) and when not on FAM missions they perform the same wide variety of aviation security functions as performed by other security specialists. However, as FAM's, they receive intensive, highly specialized law enforcement training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), followed by recurrent training every 6 months. In this reporting period, one basic class and five in-service classes were successfully concluded at the FLETC training site located at Marana, Arizona.

    In 1975, after a series of revealing hearings led by Senator Frank Church, the CIA was pressured to sell off its lucrative business front companies. The result of this program was the privatization of those former government assets into corporate hands. It was Evergreen that was chosen to take over the CIA's airbase at Marana, Arizona, which led to decades of privileged treatment regarding Evergreen's government contracts.

    Marana was said to have been used by the C.I.A. during the Iran-Contra Affair to smuggle arms. Marana from all indication was used to fly Israeli made munitions from the US directly to Iran during the Iran-Iraq War in 1981 during the Reagan administration (Covert Operations: The Human Factor). These covert operation in many ways caused efforts by the Reagan administration to ward off assaults on our American Embassy and Marine compound and may have lead to the orders not to insite action that could have thwarted the bombings in Beirut, Lebanon allowing unprotected Embassy personnel and American servicemen to be slaughtered by terrorists. Marana was the primary airfield used by the C.I.A. during the Vietnam War (see this link). It is home to the George A. Doole Aviation Center founder of Air America -- "First in, last out." Intermountan Air was also:

    South Vietnam -

    In September of 1962, several of us reported to Intermountain Aviation in Marana, Arizona. Paperlegs, Jack Cahill (MSO-58), Jack Wall and I were sent to Saigon. Jack Cahill and I started dropping cargo from a C-46 aircraft. Pete and Jack Wall went up north to set up cargo-rigging sites and to work with U.S. Special Forces B-teams. Later, I replaced Jack Wall working with the Special Forces. Cahill and Wall went to work on special ops, setting up a parachutist training area out of Saigon in preparation to [infiltrate] South Vietnamese teams into North Vietnam.

    Access this link for a PDF version of Apollo's Warriors by Col. Michael E. Haas with more information regarding Marana during both the Vietnam War and the Cold War.

    Evergreen Air During the Vietnam War

    All this was way before my brother became coordinator for the Diplomatic Security Training Facility. He was angered the the Palestinian government had sent PLO security officers there for training and showed me the Israeli UZI's he made them train with. Now if you know anything about my brother's career you know what he was known for and my suspicions is that he was sent there to clean up the mess that the C.I.A. had made. Read the following from this link:

    Ultimately Schwarz found the A-3 Sky Warrior part photos and numbers on the websites for Praxair and Evergreen International Airlines, the latter of which is a Central Intelligence Administration (CIA) cutout airline, referred to in award-winning author Pete Brewton's book as:

    "...a company that was formed from the assets of a CIA proprietary, Intermountain Aviation, after its cover was blown in the mid-1970s. In fact, Evergreen is listed on Global Airlines' creditor list directly after [infamous] Southern Air Transport...Evergreen operates the giant air base at Marana, Arizona, northwest of Tucson, which Intermountain Aviation had owned. Evergreen's founder and principal owner, Delford Smith, told the Portland Oregonian that his company had one contract with the CIA to assist foreign nationals that the CIA wanted removed from other countries or brought into the United States. Smith told the Oregonian that he believes in the CIA's cause. 'And we don't know when we supported them and when we didn't as a contract carrier,' he said. News reports in July 1984 stated that the CIA was using Southern Air Transport and the Du Ponts' Summit Aviation, as well as Evergreen Air, to transport weapons to the Iran-Contras." (The Mafia, CIA and George Bush: Corruption, greed and abuse of power in the nation's highest office, by Pete Brewton, SPI Books/Shapolsky Publishers, Inc.,1992, pp. 206-207)

    Not only do I believe that C.I.A. operations directed towards covert operations took precedent over more important things like placing Air Marshal's on commercial flights within the U.S., protecting our boarders from illegal immigration and larger and more effective firefighting planes being employed by the U.S. Forest Service, I believe that lives can and have been ruined by those that push these covert agendas. There has always been the struggle between civil servants who have worked their way up through the ranks and those that gain their positions by politicians appointment with an agenda that can only be carried out in four or eight years.

    A Witness List for House Hearings on Volume II of the CIA's Inspector General's Report on CIA Drug Trafficking, Expect Closed Door Hearings in June or July, 1998, Can the Government Handle The Truth?

    Roy Reagan - Aircraft broker, longtime CIA associate convicted in 1998 of defrauding the government in a scheme to steal C-130's from the Forest Service, move them through CIA proprietary Evergreen Air facilities and into the drug trade. Some C-130's moved through Mena, AK. Most turned up overseas doing anything but fighting fires.
    Here are a few more links regarding Evergreen Air:
  • December 2006 - O'Reilly denies allegations of White House/FOX symbiosis in one segment, thanks CIA-linked private airline for lift to Iraq in another
  • December 1988 - ONLY THE GODFATHER - CIA and Subsidiaries Exposed in Court Documents As Active Drug Smugglers Using Military Aircraft Washed Through Forest Service
  • Testimony by LTCOL OLIVER L. NORTH (USMC) RET during Iran-Contra Hearings and what the Algeria Accord has to do with embarassment at the Bush White House.

    Although he was working as a contract employ with the U.S. Department of State and the Agency for International Development and was doing Security Clearances for them in the Arizona Region he had access to many other agencies after working for several years as Special Agent in Charge of the Washington, D.C., Diplomatic Security branch of the U.S. Department of State. I had accompanied him on a couple of trips to interview while visiting in Arizona. My brother was not a fan of the C.I.A. because of some of our field operatives and was constantly in and out of countries where he was assigned trying to keep up with them. I know he has even disagreed with them at times, not good for ones health, if you know what I mean.

    Examples of reasons for disagreement can be found in the following exerpt from the Congressional Record (INTRODUCTION TO `EMBASSY MOSCOW: ATTITUDES AND ERRORS' -- (BY HENRY J. HYDE, REPUBLICAN OF ILLINOIS) (Extension of Remarks - October 26, 1988):

    "Following the Moscow embassy scandal, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board reportedly recommended that sole responsibility for embassy security be taken away from the State Department bureaucracy and given to a new quasi-independent inter-agency group reporting directly to the Secretary of State and with explicit right of appeal to the President. This `Security Evaluation Office' was indeed formed and physically located at CIA, but it was boycotted by the State Department. There followed a monumental and yet unresolved `turf war' between the State Department and CIA/SEO, with the State bureaucracy still refusing to recognize SEO's right to monitor adherence to standards. As part of its campaign to undermine SEO, State did establish a security oversight group within its Office of Inspector General, which has begun to address some substantive problems.

    The State Department's determination to avoid outside oversight on embassy security has been so strong that it declared it was willing to take the entire $270 million for tearing down and rebuilding the Moscow Embassy out of its own already strained budget, if need be; partial funding by U.S. Intelligence apparently would allow unacceptable leverage over policy."

    The State Department took one of my brothers good friends, Marvin Doig, off an assignment with my brother's private firm Intersect, Inc. at the America's Cup GAGE ROADS, WESTERN AUSTRALIA in 1986 to take control of Embassy Security at the US Embassy, Moscow following the discovery of Marine Sgt. Clayton Lonetree having committed espionage. The State Department later sent my brother in late 1991 to Almaty, Kazakstan to oversee the security of that new Embassy.

    For some of the misconceptions of why the air base at Marana would have been better served to train Air Marshal's, and Border Patrol Agents rather that what this crazy man says the C.I.A. wanted. Read this filth by following this link to an article - THE CIA USE OF FIREFIGHTING PLANES FOR DRUG RUNNING AND GUN RUNNING. Or this one ONLY THE GODFATHER - Since I find it hard to read anything in book form anymore I was pleased to find some more filth online by following commentary of L. FLETCHER PROUTY Col., U.S. Air Force (Ret.) entitled THE SECRET TEAM The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World (Every time someone wants to bring up something they always bring up either JFK or Marylin Monroe - Let these people rest in peace)

    My brother continued his contacts overseas thoughout his career and up until his death in 2000.

    J. Stryker Meyer - Commentary
    North County Times - April 21, 2002
    The Marine Corps prides itself on remembering its history and the major events of its storied defense of America.

    So I found it somewhat surprising at the lack of public notice by the Corps on April 8, marking the two-year anniversary of the hybrid prop-rotor MV-22 Osprey crash in Marana, Ariz. The controversial plane crashed during a testing and evaluation flight, killing 19 Marines 14 from Camp Pendleton, one from Miramar and the four-man flight crew.

    If any public notice was released by the Corps, I missed it.

    To put the crash of April 8, 2000 in perspective, more Marines died in the Arizona desert airport during a training exercise 30 miles northwest of Tucson than have been killed during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

    The 14-man contingent from Camp Pendleton's 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment were the so-called grunts who were training for the first time in an Osprey dubbed "Nighthawk 72." They were training to evacuate citizens in wartime conditions.

    But that night, just before 8 p.m., when Nighthawk 72 approached the Marana airport, something went terribly wrong. Nighthawk 72 was one of four Ospreys and other aircraft in the training operation. During its descent, in two critical seconds, eyewitnesses said the Osprey rolled violently to its right and plunged nose-first into the ground, exploding in flames, killing all 19 Marines.

    The key villain in the crash was an aerodynamic phenomenon called asymmetrical vortex ring state, or power settling, which occurs when one of the aircraft's two prop-rotors loses its ability to lift. That night, the right prop-rotor went into power settling, losing its lift capability. The left prop-rotor continued to lift and drove the aircraft into the ground.

    Several panels and investigations have looked into that crash and the MV-22 crash in December 2000 that killed four more Marines.

    Cowen, Lauren; Long, James; CIA Proprietary Kept Arizona Air Park Humming
    The Oregonian
    22 August 1988

    Seventeen miles north of Tucson, Ariz., motorists driving down Interstate 10 toward the city can look to their right and see a distant glimmer of airplanes.

    It comes from Pinal Air Park, an old U.S. Air Force base. It was known as Marana Air Park when a CIA proprietary company called Intermountain Aviation Inc. began running it in October 1961. Nowadays it's run by Evergreen Air Center Inc., a subsidiary of Evergreen International Aviation Inc.

    Over the years, some interesting planes have contributed to the glimmer:

  • *A Lockheed L-100, a civilian version of the C-130, being fancied up for Idi Amin Dada, the Ugandan dictator.
  • *A squadron of Lockheed T-33s, the training version of the F-80 jet fighter, being readied for the Colombian Air Force.
  • *A Douglas DC-3 cargo plane that was sold to people who later crashed it into the Caribbean Sea while they were being pursued by U.S. drug agents.
  • *A war-surplus Boeing B-17 bomber equipped with a device for snatching secret agents off the ground.
  • *A squadron of salvaged Martin B-26 bombers destined for the Argentine navy. The interesting thing about the list of planes is that, with the exception of the B-17 that came with the property, they were all at the air park long after the CIA sold Intermountain's interest to Evergreen Helicopters Inc. of McMinnville.

    Why the CIA went to the trouble to move onto Marana Air Park in the first place, why it sold out to Evergreen Helicopters and what Evergreen has been doing at Marana for the past 13 years are all parts of the McMinnville company's unusual history.

    World War II base

    The 2,200-acre Marana property originally was built by the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II for training fighter pilots -- one of them, coincidentally, a Portland man named Melvyn R. Paisley who is now a key figure in the Pentagon contract-rigging investigation.

    The Air Force abandoned the base after the war, deeding it in 1948 to Pinal County, Ariz., for ``public purposes.'' The Air Force took it back briefly during the Korean War, then gave it back to the county, which rented it to a succession of small operators until the CIA showed up.

    The spy agency gained control of the air park through people who approached Robert E. Roberts, president of Sonora Flying Service Inc. of Columbia, Calif., which had leased the property Nov. 7, 1960.

    Roberts wasn't in the CIA. His company was in the aerial firefighting business, mostly for the U.S. Forest Service. It also was in the business of converting surplus military planes into aerial tankers for dropping retardants on forest fires.

    Roberts, who now works in California as a mining engineer, said he had gotten involved with the CIA only because it wanted the air-park lease. The CIA valued Marana for approximately the same reasons Roberts did:

    It had large, well-equipped repair hangars that were perfect for modifying planes. It was isolated, and it was only a few minutes' flight time from the gigantic aircraft "boneyard'' at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.

    Known then as the U.S. Department of Defense Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center, the Davis-Monthan *bone- yard was a paramilitary operator's dream -- hundreds upon hundreds of used planes, crammed wingtip-to-wingtip as far as the eye could see in some directions. With Pentagon approval, they were free for the CIA's taking -- the largest collection of spare military aircraft on Earth.

    One of Intermountain's missions would be pulling planes out of the boneyard and fixing them up for covert CIA operations overseas. In some cases, the agency had the planes completely dismantled and all identifying marks removed, even from internal engine parts, to make them untraceable to the U.S. government.

    Creating a cover

    Under Intermountain, Marana Air Park would develop one of the largest aircraft-overhaul depots in the United States. Conveniently for the CIA, Roberts' company already was creating a cover by getting people used to seeing old military planes flying in and out as they underwent tanker conversion.

    "I think I already had 10 TBMs, four PBYs and eight B-25s and B-17s,'' Roberts said. "Some I got at Davis-Monthan. Some were scattered all over.'' The Grumman-designed TBMs were single-engine torpedo bombers. The Consolidated PBYs were twin-engine seaplanes, and the North American B-25s and Boeing B-17s were twin-engine and four-engine bombers, respectively.

    The procession of obsolete military planes in and out of Marana raised no eyebrows. Neither did the arrival of Forest Service parachutists. Sonora's work with the Forest Service included *dropping smokejumpers, and only a few people in government were aware that the Forest Service smokejumper program cooperated closely with the CIA.

    From the mid-1950s until the mid-1970s, the CIA actively recruited paramilitary personnel from the smokejumper program, particularly at the Forest Service's Region One fire base at Missoula, Mont., and a satellite base at McCall, Idaho. As many as one-fourth of the smokejumpers at those bases worked at least part time for the CIA.

    According to Roberts, Intermountain divided its time between converting airplanes and developing new parachutes and parachute techniques for covert operations. Much of the parachute work involved dropping men and supplies into rugged, forested terrain -- exactly the kind of techniques the Forest Service had pioneered.

    Forest Service link

    Many experts who worked in Intermountain's parachute program were recruited or on loan from the Forest Service. In fact, the CIA official who first approached Roberts about Marana Air Park was an ex-smokejumper who had joined the spy agency in Missoula.

    Garfield M. Thorsrud was one of five former Missoula smokejumpers who ended up running Intermountain. Dozens more would pass through the Intermountain base en route to destinations such as Laos and Cambodia.

    Thorsrud and the others had parachuted many times from airplanes operated by Johnson Flying Service, a little Missoula airline that was a Forest Service firefighting contractor. Evergreen later would buy Johnson, about the same time it was buying Intermountain's assets from the CIA.

    Roberts recalled Thorsrud's coming to see him about the air-base lease after Thorsrud had talked to an ex-smokejumper they both knew -- Andy Anderson, then with the Forest Service in Silver City, N.M.

    "I don't remember exactly how it went,'' Roberts said. "They told me something about what they were doing and wanted me to help. I thought, 'Well, it's a pretty good cause.' But that's also how I got out of it, by looking in the inside of it. I got disenchanted with it pretty fast, and that's where I started to let them run the show. I went to mining in New Mexico. I still had the base (lease), though. I had it for 15 years.''

    Intermountain's commercial cover story began with its articles of incorporation, filed in Phoenix on Sept. 26, 1961. Two prominent Phoenix lawyers, Orme Lewis and Robert J. Kelso, lent their names. Roberts was shown as president of Intermountain and also as president of Marana Air Park Inc., which was formed a few days later to hold the property lease. Roberts would appear to run Intermountain until Thorsrud, the actual boss, openly took over in 1965.

    With only a few glitches, the CIA enterprise maintained a successful cover for nearly 14 years, holding itself out as a Forest Service contractor and civilian airplane-reconfiguration company. But it was the largest proprietary the CIA ever admitted operating inside the United States.

    Unlike at the present-day Evergreen Air Center, there was never a guard on the gate when the CIA operated Marana. Visitors just drove in unchallenged and talked to whatever friendly Missoulian happened to saunter by.

    Out in the open

    The CIA's security doctrine for Intermountain was "hide in plain sight.'' Whatever couldn't be concealed was done right out in the open. In fact, it was essential to talk to the press in order to spread misleading information about activities that were impossible to hide.

    Tucson Man Recalls Covert Career at Marana Air Field By Henry Brean Source The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson (TNS)

    On March 2, 1962, local news media were invited to Marana to watch a B-17 whisk a dummy off the ground on the end of a cable. Experiments with the Fulton Skyhook, as it was called, almost surely had been seen by outsiders. The plane had an easily visible Y-shaped prong on its nose, and it would fly along at 125 mph and grab a cable that had been hoisted into the air by a balloon. The dummy was then reeled into the plane like a fish.

    In 1965, the CIA-operated Fulton-equipped B-17 Flying Fortress (former AAF Ser. No. 44-85531), registered as N809Z, was featured at the ending of the James Bond movie Thunderball.

  • Twilight Warriors: Covert Air Operations Against the USSR - By Curtis Peebles
  • Poor Old George-(An Interview With Bob Nicol by Gayle Morrison
  • Seven Days in the Arctic CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence
  • Neil's Nostalgia - N809Z Boeing B-17G Fortress (32426) ex 44-83785 with Fulton Skyhook.
  • The Skyhook Started by stilettoman
  • The Aircraft of Air America, 5th edition of 4 March 2013, by Dr. Joe F. Leeker

  • Reporters accepted Intermountain's explanation that the system could come in handy for hoisting people or equipment out of inaccessible areas -- a true statement, as far as it went. The right slant was put on the explanation by arranging for the skyhook to be demonstrated in the presence of "90 forest fire experts,'' as a newspaper story noted the next day.

    Later, Intermountain thought it desirable to explain to reporters its experiments with weird-looking parachutes. A maneuverable, bat-like "para-wing'' that might have been seen by local citizens was explained as a radio-controllable parachute "for pinpointing a drop zone so the firefighters won't have to chase cargo three miles down a canyon.''

    Intermountain passed out other tall tales about its work with short-takeoff-and-landing, or STOL, aircraft. Such planes were widely used by the CIA in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and others have been used more recently in Central America.

    "Strange-looking, long-snouted'' Fairchild Heli-Porters, of Swiss design, were explained in newspaper articles as being "perfect for canyon flying'' because they could "take off in 300 feet, ascend at more than a 45-degree angle while maintaining only 40 mph speed, make a midair turn on a dime and then land in 130 feet of space,'' one writer marveled. "One of the Porters is adapted for aerial mapping jobs with a glassbottom floor for mounting special cameras.''

    Storage hallmark

    Intermountain got into the civilian aircraft-storage business no later than October 1966. It was an activity that Evergreen would continue after it bought the base nine years later.

    Among the first planes to arrive for storage were a dozen Convair 880 jetliners, their rent paid by billionaire Howard Hughes, who had bought them from Northeast Airlines in Miami. Stored aircraft became a hallmark of Marana Air Park.

    So many planes passed through the CIA-controlled storage area that the activity soon became routine. And because so many of the planes were said to be surplus and for sale, it caused no particular comment when planes departed with color schemes and identification numbers different from the ones with which they had arrived.

    The first local hint about Intermountain's true ownership came Aug. 15, 1970. The Tucson Daily Star, unable to get straight answers about an Intermountain plane that had crashed into a residential neighborhood, quoted "a top law enforcement official'' as saying Intermountain was part of the CIA.

    An Intermountain official denounced the report as "ridiculous.''

    "Rumors like this put us in a hell of a bind,'' said Jack Scanlon, Intermountain personnel director -- a true enough statement, as far as it went.

    CIA headquarters in Washington, D.C., evaded the issue by denying something of which Intermountain hadn't been accused. "We don't engage in intelligence operations inside the continental U.S. -- that's a function of the FBI,'' a CIA spokesman said.

    The answers were interpreted as denials. They weren't, exactly, but they did get the press off the CIA's back. Later, Intermountain was able to burnish its cover story by granting interviews depicting the company as a miracle of free enterprise. "Intermountain owes its continuous progress to diversification,'' the Tucson Daily Star informed its readers.

    It quoted Edgar L. Mitchell, Intermountain's financial vice president, as saying that "early sales activities centered on maintenance services, but the more recent and pronounced growth is the result of increased flying activities.''

    However, the CIA's problem in keeping the cover drawn over its proprietaries in the early 1970s wasn't due so much to the press as to the angry owners of small airlines that had been hurt or bankrupted by the agency.

    Contracts dry up Many non-scheduled airlines had made a living flying military cargo and passengers, and they saw their contracts dry up as the Pentagon diverted them to favored carriers that turned out to be owned by the CIA.

    At first the CIA and the Pentagon tried to preserve secrecy by arranging contracts for companies that had enough information to blow the whistle. But with the lid about to pop, Richard Helms, then the director of central intelligence, ordered his agency in 1972 to get rid of several proprietaries, including Air America Inc., based on Taiwan; Southern Air Transport Inc. of Miami; and Intermountain Aviation.

    In November 1973, the first piece of Intermountain -- an air-freight operation in Detroit -- went to Rosenbalm Aviation Inc., then of Medford. That December, the CIA sold Southern Air Transport to its longtime president, Stanley Williams.

    In February 1974, Evergreen Helicopters Inc. signed an agreement to buy Johnson Flying Service and also hired as an executive a legendary veteran of the CIA's secret operations in Laos, Ernest C. Brace. Brace was well known not only in the CIA but also in the State Department and the Pentagon.

    By November 1974, the CIA was in touch with Evergreen about taking Intermountain off its hands. Evergreen was the only company seriously considered for the purchase.

    "Evergreen, at the time we dealt with them, was the largest fixed-base operator in the world,'' said Kelso, the former Intermountain lawyer. ``They were one of the few people we approached, with the idea that they could afford to buy what we had to sell.''

    A deal on Marana was negotiated the next February, and the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board was signaling its intention to approve the transfer of Johnson's airline certificate to Evergreen.

    On March 1, 1975, the assets of Intermountain Aviation Inc. and Intermountain Air Service Inc. were transferred to Evergreen Helicopters. Included in the deal was the remaining six years of Marana Air Park Inc.'s $49,500-a-year lease from Pinal County.

    Smooth transition

    The change to Evergreen ownership caused hardly a ripple. Thorsrud, who had run Intermountain more than 13 years for the CIA, stayed with Evergreen until the end of June 1975. In all, about 60 Intermountain employees remained on the Evergreen payroll for periods ranging from weeks to years after the change of ownership.

    John D. Wall, who had been Intermountain's vice president, retired from Evergreen less than a year ago. Kenneth R. Rockwell, Intermountain's chief navigator and an expert on low-level photo-reconnaissance, is still with Evergreen. Rockwell remembered the McMinnville company's keeping Marana's aircraft-modification shops busy soon after the purchase.

    "Argentina bought six B-26s from Davis-Monthan, and Evergreen fixed them up and got them ready to fly,'' Rockwell said. He also remembered Evergreen's "spiffing up 25 or 30 T-33s for the Colombian Air Force.''

    Rockwell said he recalled reading later that an Argentine B-26 had strafed a Soviet trawler it had caught inside Argentine territorial waters. "I think the Argentines lost their B-26s, or what was left of them, during the Falklands War,'' he said.

    Another Intermountain activity that Evergreen continued was the aircraft-storage business. At the time the CIA handed the base to Evergreen, some 35 planes were stored on the premises. Their owners included American and Continental airlines and the National Bank of Detroit.

    Evergreen owner Delford M. Smith and other company officials quickly set to work building up the newly formed Evergreen International Airlines, which would rate from the old air base. Its creation was made possible by Evergreen's acquisition of Johnson Flying Service's airline operating certificate in October 1975. Evergreen was no longer just a helicopter company.

    First military contract

    In 1976, Evergreen hired George Arntzen Doole Jr., the man who had created and run the CIA's global air proprietary system, as a $20,000-a-year consultant. Within a year the new airline had its first military contract.

    Jack R. Hughes, a former Johnson pilot and vice president who had joined Evergreen, had a hard time getting used to some of his new duties. One night, he d, he was sent from Marana to Tucson to pick up payment for a DC-3, federal registration No. N43200, that Evergreen had just sold. Expecting to receive a $55,000 check, Hughes was surprised to find himself in a hotel room with several large men who counted out $55,000 in cash onto a bedspread.

    "I didn't think I was going to get out of there alive,'' Hughes said in an interview in Missoula, where he is now retired. "Later on I read about that plane running out of fuel over the Caribbean while it was being chased by the Navy or DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) or somebody like that.''

    Interesting planes showed up regularly at Marana. One that came in for maintenance work was a private Boeing 727 jetliner owned by the Occidental Petroleum Co. and used by its chairman, Armand Hammer. The plane has made many trips to the Soviet Union, where Hammer had enjoyed a unique relationship with Kremlin leaders going all the way back to V.I. Lenin.

    Another plane that rolled through Evergreen's shops was a Lockheed L-100 owned by Idi Amin Dada, the Ugandan president-for-life who later fled into exile accused of murdering more than 150,000 Ugandan citizens and of practicing cannibalism.

    Amin had bought the four-engine transport from Page Airways, which in 1976 had begun sharing its Orlando, Fla., cargo terminal with Evergreen. The L-100 figured in a joint U.S.-Israeli intelligence operation against Amin in which Page Airways played a role, according to a deposition in federal court by a Page vice president.

    The Securities and Exchange Commission had filed suit against Page in 1978, charging five of its officers with bribing foreign officials. However, the suit was dropped at the request of the CIA.

    Charles Hanner, then a Page vice president, testified by deposition that he had been introduced to Amin by Hans Ziegler, a veteran agent of Mossad, the Israeli military intelligence service. Ziegler's Swiss company, Zimex Aviation, had sold a number of aircraft to Middle Eastern potentates and to Amin's friend Moammar Khadafy, the Libyan dictator.

    The L-100 that went through Evergreen Air Center had been flown for Amin by crews that Page had hired from Southern Air Transport. During the flights, the American crews had been able to obtain details of some of Amin's most private conversations, including some with Khadafy. Whether the plane was electronically "bugged'' was never disclosed.

    A. E. "Schnozz'' Mayer, Evergreen Air Center's customer representative, said he didn't remember exactly what was done to Amin's plane there, except that it involved interior work.

    'Funny stuff'

    One former Evergreen Air Center official who found the company fascinating was C. Roger Fulton, vice president for administration during most of 1980. Fulton was working for a Tucson shopping mall when Evergreen hired him to help run its business office. He said he had become convinced by a number of small, undramatic happenings that the air center was still involved in covert activities.

    "It was a collection of funny stuff,'' Fulton said. He recalled, for example, being politely steered away from a meeting between George Doole and some of the old Intermountain hands.

    "Doole was there three times when I was there,'' Fulton said. "The first time he showed up, he flew in on Del Smith's Learjet and looked like he'd been sleeping in that three-piece suit. All the guys trooped down on the flight line to meet him, piled in one of the vans and rode about two miles up the other end of the base to the restaurant for a luncheon meeting.

    "I just naturally assumed that I was supposed to go along, since I was the No. 2 guy on the base,'' Fulton said. "I walked in, and I walked up to the door of the private dining room in the restaurant and Huffman stopped me.'' Jon Huffman was Evergreen Air Center president.

    "He was real nice about it,'' Fulton said. "He said, 'That's OK, Rog, you know, you're new and they're talking about some old stuff. No use bothering your head about it. Why don't you go do a financial statement?' ''

    Fulton laughed. "So I ate with the mechanics.''

    In a separate interview, Huffman initially said he had met Doole only on visits to Washington, D.C., where Doole was doing his Evergreen consulting work. Later he recalled that he had also met Doole at Evergreen Air Center when Doole was there for board meetings. But he said he couldn't remember the incident Fulton had described.

    "I think anybody who runs the air center will always be accused of some kind of covert operation,'' Huffman said.

    Helicopters overhauled

    Fulton said much of the air center's activity in 1980 had involved helicopters. "We were always refurbishing and renovating and selling helicopters to Central America,'' he said. "Once, before I left, they had a contract from a Central American company -- I can't remember the name of the company -- to renovate a dozen military helicopters.''

    On occasion, Fulton said, junky-looking helicopters were flown over from the Davis-Monthan boneyard. "I remember three old Sikorsky choppers,'' Fulton said. "You know, those big old double-decker jobs from the Korean War. I would never go up in those things. But by the time our mechanics were done with them, they looked and flew brand new. And they flew them out of there -- I don't know where.''

    Fulton recalled that air-center technicians had installed side-looking radar on three former U.S. Coast Guard patrol bombers that were being turned over to an Arab country. He also remembered gun brackets and portholes being installed in a military surplus "Flying Boxcar,'' a Fairchild C-119, in a way that a worker interpreted as a "Puff the Magic Dragon'' gunship configuration.

    Fulton said he remembered the C-119 particularly because he had to go into the hangar and talk to the crew chief about problems that he -- Fulton -- was having matching parts charges with the job number on the plane.

    Huffman, however, said Evergreen Air Center never had turned out a gunship. Fulton said that what had intrigued him about the air center more than anything else was the way it did business. He said he hadn't run into anything quite like it since his graduation in 1968 from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Economics.

    "I spent my whole time at Evergreen just scraping up money,'' he said. "I thought I was going to work for a $10 million manufacturing company, but it never had more than $300,000 worth of accounts receivable.

    "I kept saying to them, 'If you guys know something I don't, now's the time to tell me. Because I've got $7,000 in the bank, and a $14,000 light bill's due tomorrow.' ''

    Fulton said he was intrigued at such times to get telephone calls from the bank informing him that more money -- $500,000 on one occasion -- had been pumped into the air center's account. He said he assumed it was from one of the other Evergreen companies.

    Evergreen at the time had just been refinanced by a consortium of insurance companies and banks.

    Rivets to the rescue

    Another source of revenue for the air center, Fulton said, was the Garrett Corp. Garrett was a division of Allied Signal Inc., a major defense contractor that was represented in Washington by Charles G. Botsford, a retired Air Force colonel from Portland who had spent most of his career working with the CIA. Botsford shared an office with Doole.

    Fulton said the Garrett Corp. had given Evergreen a job testing an engine mounted in the nose of a military surplus Douglas A-26 Invader, a World War II-era twin-engine bomber.

    "Whenever we were out of money and absolutely couldn't get a dime out of anybody, I mean everybody in the system was tapped out, Huffman would say, 'OK, I'll send a few guys out onto the A-26, and we'll drive a few rivets into her. Call Garrett and tell (an official there) you're going to bill him for a hundred grand, and they'll send you a check right away.' I did, and he did.''

    Smith said he recalled the A-26 contract, and he said there were probably progress payments, but he didn't remember the name of the customer.

    There were important changes at Marana in 1979 and 1980. Evergreen International Airlines packed up and moved to Newberg, en route to a new headquarters at McMinnville. About the same time, Gar Thorsrud moved back to Evergreen Air Center as a tenant, bringing with him Sierra Pacific Airlines, a non-scheduled carrier he had formed with some old associates from Intermountain.

    Close to Sierra Pacific was a parachute club, Marana Sky Divers Inc., run by Tony Frost. Frost said he had been "around'' the base during the Intermountain era but had worked for another company.

    (My brother retired from the U.S. State Department Foreign Service late 1982 - Early 1983 and moved to Tucson, Arizona where he began coordinating training for the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.)

    In April 1981, another prospective neighbor was knocking on Evergreen's door. The Army National Guard announced it was going to locate an advanced training site for attack helicopters next to the air park.

    The Western Army Aviation Training Center, which opened Oct. 25, 1986, would be headquarters for the Arizona National Guard's 551st Attack Helicopter Battalion and would train about 500 pilots annually in choppers, including Bell AH-1S Cobra gunships. The National Guard base would be accessible on the ground only by entering through the Evergreen Air Center gate.

    New lease acquired

    Pinal County on Aug. 18, 1982, gave Evergreen a new 25-year lease on Marana after carving off 280 acres on the northwest side to rent to the National Guard. Evergreen's annual payment under the new lease was to be $113,137 at a minimum.

    It would be allowed to sublease parts of the air park to third parties, with 5 percent of the revenues going to Pinal County. In turn, Evergreen promised to maintain the 87 buildings and grounds and to bring the runway up to Federal Aviation Administration standards.

    Within the next few years, Evergreen cut its overhead by lining up $1.9 million worth of subleases from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Forest Service. It also went to work on the air park's grounds and buildings with a convict labor force it got in March 1983 from the Arizona Department of Corrections.

    Evergreen provided room and board and paid 85 cents an hour for labor for 30 long-term felons, some of whom had training in skilled construction trades. Evergreen gave the Corrections Department 50 cents an hour per man, which the men could spend as they wished, and paid 35 cents an hour into each man's prison savings account.

    The Arizona AFL-CIO denounced the deal as "slave labor.'' Some 18 months later, the Corrections Department ended the program after a convicted killer escaped. The convict controversy was one of several that swirled around Evergreen Air Center about that time.

    On April 2, 1983, shortly after the prisoners took up residence at Evergreen, one of 38 Navy SEAL commandos on a combined secret exercise with Army personnel plunged to his death from a helicopter there.

    Just to establish a time-line for when the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center located to Marana I found the following:

    January 1, 1988 - June 30, 1988

    The enactment of Public Law 99-83 established an explicit statutory basis for the FAA's FAM Program. This statute provided the Secretary of Transportation with the authority to authorize (with the approval of the Attorney General and the Secretary of State) civil aviation security FAM's to carry firearms and to make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony.

    FAM's are recruited as civil aviation security specialists (special agents) and when not on FAM missions they perform the same wide variety of aviation security functions as performed by other security specialists. However, as FAM's, they receive intensive, highly specialized law enforcement training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), followed by recurrent training every 6 months. In this reporting period, one basic class and five in-service classes were successfully concluded at the FLETC training site located at Marana, Arizona.

    Annual Report to Congress on Civil Aviation Security
    January 1, 1996 - December 31, 1996

    September 25, 2001 - AVIATION SECURITY- Testimony Before the Committee on Governmental Affairs and Its Subcommittee on Oversight of Governmental Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia, U.S. Senate

    As we reported in June 2000, testing of screeners shows that significant, long-standing weaknesses measured by the screeners abilities to detect threat objects located on passengers or contained in their carry-on luggage continue to exist. In 1987, screeners missed 20 percent of the potentially dangerous objects used by FAA in its tests. At that time, FAA characterized this level of performance as unsatisfactory. More recent results have shown that as testing gets more realistic that is, as tests more closely approximate how a terrorist might attempt to penetrate a checkpoint screeners performance declines significantly. A principal cause of screener performance problems is the rapid turnover among screeners. Turnover exceeded over 100 percent a year at most large airports, leaving few skilled and experienced screeners, primarily because of the low wages, limited benefits, and repetitive, monotonous nature of their work. Additionally, too little attention has been given to factors such as the sufficiency of the training given to screeners.

    Some stats on the Federal Budget during the years 1983-1993 at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center- Marana, Arizona.

    Clumsiness raises questions

    The death might have been passed off as a skydiving accident, except for the clumsy military officials who tried to claim the body at a Tucson hospital. First they tried to get the hospital to release the body without notifying the coroner as the law required. Then they refused to identify the victim, claiming it was a matter of national security.

    The hospital kicked them out and sent the body to the coroner until the Navy answered some questions. It finally identified the victim as Gary F. Hersey, 25, a machinery repairman 2nd class assigned to Special Warfare Group II at Little Creek, Va.

    Military authorities wouldn't say why Navy and Army personnel were exercising together under civilian cover at a private air base. But Hersey was a member of the SEALs -- the Navy's Sea, Air and Land teams. SEAL Team 2, based at Little Creek, reportedly supplied personnel for the Delta Force, an anti-terrorist unit made up of special forces members from different branches of service.

    Smith said Evergreen had no contract with the military for special forces training but otherwise refused to discuss the matter.

    Evergreen Air Center's largest federal tenant is the western branch of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Administered by the Treasury Department, the center provides advanced training for federal, state and local law-enforcement people.

    James C. Woolfenden, program manager, said 63 agencies took part last year, including the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Customs Service, the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the Federal Aviation Administration's sky marshals -- and on down to local police departments. (Learn more about Kennedy's Sky Marshal Program - U.S. Federal Air Marshals Part I : History 101 - 10.27.2010)

    He said about 3,000 students had gone through the center in 1987. Most trainees lived in base housing and faced a curriculum ranging from hand-to-hand combat in a former base chapel to run-and-shoot techniques on a combat firearms range financed in part by the Saudi Arabian government.

    The sky marshals' particular treat was being able to practice blowing their way into airliners to rescue imaginary hostages, using explosives on derelict aircraft provided by Evergreen. The FAA recently paid (1988) Evergreen $75,000 for a Douglas DC-8 hulk on which to practice.

    (I visited this particular Douglas DC-8 and knew at the time that the sky marshal later called the Air Marshal Service was using it. My brother's training consisted of escorting officials to and from those hulks and being attacked from every angle along the way. He used CRASH BANG CARS, one of which we rode in a couple times doing BOOTLEG and "J" TURNS. The cars were from one of the NASCAR stables in North Carolina, furnished with the help of another cousin of ours, CHARLIE MCCLAUGLIN, who had recently retired to Franklin, N.C. from the National Security Agency (NSA). When I heard that training for that particular service was being halted that is when I wrote letters to Senator Jim Sasser asking WHY??. I particularly was interested in seeing a large, I think Boeing 727 doing touch and goes from the nearby Evergreen Air Field landing strip.)

    The Forest Service, decidedly a quieter tenant, paid Evergreen $80,000 last year for three buildings in which to run the National Advanced Resource Technology Center, a fire- and resource-management school that has been at the air park since Intermountain days.

    Still a parking lot

    Evergreen Air Center's storage program for aircraft is still its most visible activity. "We had 106 parked out here in 1983 and 1984, when fuel prices were high,'' said "Schnozz'' Mayer -- who, besides being the air center's customer representative, serves as an unofficial tour guide. "We've got about 40 right now, I believe.''

    Putting two visitors into an Evergreen pickup, Mayer drove south across the airfield to a storage area. He let the truck idle along a desert lane past silent rows of planes.

    Mayer, who insists on being called "Schnozz'' and has the nickname printed on his Evergreen business cards, joined the company from Intermountain. He makes no secret of it but offers no additional information. "I didn't know anything about that,'' he says, grinning and shaking his head.

    Airplane owners, he said, decide to store, fly or scrap their planes for all sorts of reasons besides rising fuel prices. The planes are a commodity much like pork bellies or cocoa futures, with their value going up and down for a variety of arcane reasons, such as the cost of complying with anti-noise legislation.

    "We've had planes get bought and sold three times without moving,'' he said.

    As the pickup crunched along the lane, gutted-out DC-8 jetliners could be seen sharing the mesquite with ungainly twin-engine seaplanes, some apparently flyable, painted with the logo of Chalks International Airline Inc. of Miami.

    One Evergreen DC-8, 801EV, had flown the exiled Shah of Iran. An unmarked C-130 military-surplus cargo plane gathered tumbleweeds against its squat belly, its storage fees being paid by the Valley National Bank of Phoenix, which had repossessed it from its former owners, Mayer said.

    'A bit of history'

    "Most of these birds ain't as bad off as they look,'' Mayer said, nodding at a Flying Tigers freighter that had caught his attention -- a Boeing 707 sitting in permanent pratfall amid the paloverde shrubs.

    "This one was a good bird until it landed here and the left main landing gear collapsed and it skidded off the runway several years ago,'' Mayer said.

    Will it ever fly again?

    "I don't know. I heard the sky marshals want to drag it over to their place and use it to practice for hijackings,'' Mayer said.

    "Most of the 707s that were parked here all went down to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to be integrated into the KC-135 spare-parts program,'' Mayer said, resuming the tour. KC-135s, military tanker versions of the 707, are used by the Air Force to refuel other planes in flight, as the U.S. F-111s based in England were refueled on their way to bomb Libya on April 14, 1986.

    "Now, this orange aircraft here's a bit of history,'' Mayer said, pointing at a hulk resting in the brush. "This was an original DC-8-10, Serial Number 1. I think Delta and United both owned this airplane.''

    Two gutted planes without landing gear clasped each other in the sagebrush like mating whales. "There's one or two of these about ready to be Budweiser cans,'' Mayer allowed.

    On the west side of the field sat three airworthy-looking Navy-surplus Lockheed P2V Neptune twin-engine bombers with Evergreen logos on their tails. Mayer likes the P2V's -- he used to be a crewman on one. But these, he said, were forest-fire tankers.

    Over on the north side of the base, taking advantage of the pavement there, were some better-looking planes, including two Air Ethiopia 707s with faded lions rampant on their sides. They sat not far from an unmarked Convair 580 propjet that was parked outside the operations office of Sierra Pacific Airlines, Gar Thorsrud's company. Another plane parked nearby was a brand-new, unmarked Boeing 737-300, still in its light-gray primer paint.

    "Boeing still owns it,'' Mayer said. "I think somebody's going to take delivery of it, sooner or later. But it's been here about a month and a half.''

    Bare-bones checks

    Inside the George A. Doole Aviation Center, named for the legendary CIA man who had been an Evergreen consultant and later a board member, Evergreen crews were working on a gleaming Continental Airlines Douglas DC-9 and two of Evergreen's own 727s. At another shop a quarter-mile away, crews worked on flaps and other control surfaces, removing their metal skins and using dental mirrors to check for hidden corrosion in the underlying framework. Evergreen Air Center can, and does, strip planes right down to the bare bones, using X-ray and other techniques to assure airworthiness.

    The price for storing a wide-body jet at the air center begins at $750 a month, Mayer said. Smaller planes, such as 707s, *cost around $400.

    "Plus any labor that has to go in 'em,'' Mayer added. He explained that planes have to be prepared for storage and must be rolled a few feet once in a while to keep the tires and bearings from going flat.

    That makes sense for planes that seem likely to fly again, but why would anyone spend hundreds of dollars per month storing something that looks suspiciously like a derelict?

    "Lots of different reasons,'' Mayer said. Some customers don't seem in a great hurry to get their property back. "That old (Fairchild) F-27 we just passed back there is the Old Man and the Sea -- it's been here 18 years,'' he said.

    Somebody has paid rent on a broken-down, unflyable twin-engine commuter plane every month for 18 years?


    Whose is it?


    Some of Evergreen's own stored aircraft have been known to raise eyebrows. A gigantic Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane helicopter has been sitting idle near the air center office going on three years, although it's a $7 million piece of equipment.

    "They're expensive to run,'' Mayer said. "They'll run you about $9,000 an hour, portal to portal. We had three, actually, and they sold one; and then we had two, and one of 'em caught fire in Canada several years ago and burnt up. This one was used back East, in high lift on big buildings. Construction jobs, primarily.''

    The presence of so many expensive aircraft is the reason given for the visibly high level of security at Evergreen Air Center. Visitors don't wander in casually. Guards in military-green uniforms with Evergreen patches on the shoulders control traffic through the entry gate. A candy-striped barrier like a railroad-crossing gate swings down to stop vehicles the guards don't recognize.

    Visitors' identities are checked, their appointments verified with phone calls and passes are issued to dangle on rear-view mirrors and clip to lapels. Behind the neatly kept guard building is a dog run housing German shepherds that help patrol the area at night.

    4 Photos by RANDY L. RASMUSSEN of the Oregonian Staff

    Copyright (c) 1988 Oregonian Publishing Co.
    Author: JAMES LONG and LAUREN COWEN of the Oregonian Staff
    Section: LOCAL STORIES
    Page: A10
    Copyright (c) 1988 Oregonian Publishing Co.

    What you wanted to know about Hi-Jacking but were afraid to ask!! There were only 33 employed on "over-seas flights" on 9/11/2001. A-man
    From - The Official Publication of the Mid-Atlantic Pilots Association August 2004 - Developer of U.S. sky marshal program dead at 82 - Boston Globe - July 22, 2004 - Faced with a rash of airplane hijackings in the 1960s and 1970s, the federal government launched a program to put sky marshals at Kennedy International Airport in New York City, asking Boston native Arthur A. Montuori, then chief of enforcement for the New England office of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, to develop the program.

    Mr. Montuori supervised some 300 special agents serving as sky marshals on international flights, prompting the Internal Revenue Service, which then had jurisdiction over ATF, to laud him for "developing an operative and efficient" sky marshal program ...

    Developer of U.S. sky marshal program dead at 82 Boston Globe July 22 - Arthur A. Montuori, the man credited with developing the U.S. sky marshal program to combat a rash of airplane hijackings in the 1960s and 1970s, died of pneumonia on Sunday. He was 82.

    Montuori, a resident of Winchester, was chief of enforcement for the New England office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms when the federal government launched the air security program at Kennedy International Airport in New York City. He supervised some 300 special agents serving as sky marshals on international flights, prompting the Internal Revenue Service, which then had jurisdiction over the ATF, to praise him for "developing an operative and efficient" sky marshal program "under the extreme pressures of time and circumstances."

    After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Montuori, now retired, told his family that he believed when he developed the sky marshal program that "there should be a steel door protecting the cockpit" of planes, his son, Richard, told The Boston Globe in an interview. Montuori also was part of the investigation into Boston's Suffolk County Courthouse bombing in 1976, in which 22 people were injured. Eight members of a radical political group eventually were charged in the case.

    A native of Boston's predominantly Italian- American North End neighborhood, Montuori joined the ATF in 1955, retiring 23 years later. He then served as director of the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Academy in Reading and Topsfield for more than 10 years.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009 - Sky Marshal Story - 40th Anniversary Sky Marshal Reunion

    Darrell Henderson, TASOS class #19 is organizing a reunion of Custom Security Officers, former Treasury Agents who who flew as Federal Sky Marshals prior to the CSO's taking wing, as it were. Here is the e-mail I just received from him. In case you don't read all the way to the end, his contact is

    Re: Marana-Pinal Air Park, AZ, USA - 27/01/2009
    Sunday, June 20, 2010 2:56 PM
    From:"Joe Payne"

    Mr. Drage,

    I enjoyed so much seeing your gallery of images of Marana-Pinal Air park. My brother coordinated training there in the late 1980's and early 1990's for the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service. He had retried in 1982 from the U.S. Diplomatic Corps and worked continuously for them from 1959 until his death in Aug. 2000. I think Marana is also where the British now train their Special Forces using the American Apache helicopter.

    Today, Evergreen Aircraft Maintenance Facility and Silverbell Army Heliport make use of the site, with the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (WAATS) and other numerous National Guard units located inside SAHP. The WAATS and is used principally for all ARNG AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter training by the "Gunfighter University". It is also extensively used by the British Army for "Conversion To Role" training for Apache combat operations in Afghanistan.

    I visited Marana on several occasions and was always interested in it's history. He trained both domestic and foreign airport security the tactics needed to protect diplomats while traveling between their country and countries abroad. He also told me that the U.S. Sky Marshal program used the large 747 hulks on the runway he trained as training for on-board hijacking attempts.

    It was while at the facility with him one day when I saw Evergreen training 727 or 747 commercial pilots doing touch and go maneuvers. This was definitely a sight to see and from what I could gather they were being trained in the event of having hijacking attempts gone wrong. In your knowledge of Evergreen do you by chance know if this training ever took place at Marana?

    When the U.S. State Dept. ended it's program for Diplomatic Security I wrote many letters asking if the Sky Marshal program as well as other anti-terrorism training concerning hijacking attempts could be continued. Most were either never answered or answered with the answers of budget constraints. Sadly our government failed to see the dangers that these events might cause, finally culminating in the results of September 11, 2001.

    Re: Marana-Pinal Air Park, AZ, USA - 27/01/2009
    Thursday, July 1, 2010 7:48 PM
    From: "Karl Drage"
    To: "Joe Payne"
    Hi Joe,
    Thank you for your email and my sincere apologies for the extremely tardy response. Time is something of a scarce commodity at present!

    With regard to your query, I'm afraid I'm not able to help. My knowledge of Marana is limited to exactly what you'll find on the site! I live in the UK and it was part of a trip we did in January 2009.

    I'm sorry I can't help you.

    Kindest regards from England,
    Karl Drage -


    Something that I know and that as far as I can tell no one else knows is that during the Iranian hostage situation back in the late 1970's the British, who invented the original Harrier, licensed it to the US who improved on it and built it into the AV-8B, were slow in allowing the U.S. use of their jets in evacuating the American Embassy in Tehran. This slowness caused the U.S. to deploy the helicopters as support that eventually lead to the demise of President Jimmy Carter. This according to who you might listen to was told to me by someone in the C.I.A. or was it the N.S.A. or it could have been the P.T.A.

    Now you know "the rest of the story".

    Joe Payne

    March 12-14, 2010 - Rosetta Stone and the Code of National Security Drug War Without End

    Douglas Valentine, author of The Phoenix Program and The Strength of the Wolf, has published a third volume in what might be called a "Ring" cycle to elaborate the language of America's elite in its wars for the "Rhine gold", aka "national security". Using the methods of a therapist and chronicler, Valentine begins his books with the apparently naive and inquisitive eyes and ears of a youth asking his elders "what they did in the war?" He retains a respectful tone throughout what are essentially interviews and intervenes only to provide needed background for the reader or to occasionally compare the stories of various performers in the same scene. The author only appears when it is necessary to clarify something either he or the reader is unlikely to understand or where confusion arises.

    The Strength of the Pack, like its predecessor the Strength of the Wolf, takes its title from the Rudyard Kipling poem, "The Law of the Jungle". Kipling describes how the wolf and the pack complement each other. The power of one is ultimately dependent on that of the other. There is no such thing as a truly lone wolf. In Wolf, Valentine records the story of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and its origin in the internal security policies of the US government at the beginning of WWI. The demise of the FBN in 1968 coincided with an interregnum in which the so-called war on drugs was managed or mismanaged just like the war in Vietnam with which it was intricately connected. Richard Nixon's attempt to recover US control in Southeast Asia and establish political hegemony at home coincided with creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration, an agency charged with continuing the US government's pursuit of international narcotics trafficking and policing of the global drug trade. The Strength of the Pack is the story of how the legacy of Anslinger, the FBN's boss, and the contradictions between publicly proclaimed policies of interdiction and the actual policies of the national security state have created an apparatus based on hypocrisy and deceit which corrupts those who believe in genuine law enforcement and protects those who profit politically and economically from the clandestine control of the international drug markets.