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    Air America Tri-Blend T-Shirt

    Before they were the "Cocaine Import Agency" the CIA was the heroin delivery service, better known as Air America. (Allegedly, of course. Wink wink.) You may have seen the 1990 movie with Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. movie about these incredibly skilled pilots and the Golden Triangle drug trade. While it was a fictional account, the movie was pretty open about narcotics trafficking - as were former pilots and Laotian operators involved in the 1970s. But that story is only one controversial component of the fascinating story of Air America. 

    The public owner and cutout for Air America was the Civil Air Transport (CAT) run by "old Leatherface" Claire Lee Chennault of Fighting Tigers fame. CAT was a Taiwan-based airline acquired by the CIA in the 1950s that originally ran similar covert operations helping Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist forces against Mao's communist forces on the mainland. CAT provided legal cover for the CIA's involvement with Air America, allowing the agency to operate the airline without arousing suspicion, along with complete plausible deniability if anything went sideways. The use of front companies like CAT is standard tradecraft for the CIA, as it allows the agency to carry out covert operations without drawing attention to its involvement. Today the CIA even runs In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm that funds an incredible list of companies in data, sensors, security, surveillance tech, video, nanotech, energy, and even biotech. 

    Running drugs wasn't Air America's mission, however. It was more a side hustle out of necessity. Air America really was about helping fight commies in Asia by shipping "Anything, Anytime, Anywhere - Professionally." Guns, food, people, ordinance, or smack. It didn't matter as long as it helped hit Ho Chi Mihn where it counts.

    After the war, both Air America pilots and the Loasian Hmong they worked with scattered after the company closed its doors in 1976. Many moved to the Midwest to places like Wisconsin and Minnesota with the Hmong community that worked with the CIA in Laos being transplanted mostly here in Minnesota. Their kids ended up being my friends growing up. The airmen my neighbors. 

    Here are some of the operations Air America was involved with:

    1. The evacuation of Saigon: In 1975, as the Vietnam War was coming to a close, Air America played a critical role in evacuating American civilians and military personnel from Saigon. Air America pilots flew numerous flights in and out of the city, often under heavy fire, and were credited with helping to save thousands of lives. 

    2. The "Ravens" of Laos: In the early 1960s, Air America pilots were recruited to fly covert missions in support of the CIA's secret war in Laos. These pilots, known as the "Ravens," flew small, single-engine planes to transport troops, supplies, and weapons to remote areas of the country. They often flew at low altitudes and under extreme weather conditions and were frequently shot at by enemy forces.

    3. The rescue of downed pilots: Air America also played a critical role in rescuing American pilots who were shot down over enemy territory during the Vietnam War. In some cases, Air America pilots would fly into hostile territory to retrieve the downed pilots, risking their own lives in the process. Pretty badass stuff. 

    This tri-blend tee is unique and the only of its kind. It features the Air America winged shield logo embroidered on the front left breast, and on the back, the logo is printed with the company's unofficial motto, "We Deliver the Goods". The tri-blend fabric creates a vintage, fitted look. And extreme durability makes this t-shirt withstand repeated washings and still remain super comfortable.

    • 50% polyester, 25% combed ring-spun cotton, 25% rayon
    • Fabric weight: 3.4 oz/yd² (115.3 g/m²)
    • Pre-shrunk for extra durability
    • 40 singles
    • Regular fit
    • Side-seamed construction


    Size guide

      LENGTH (inches) WIDTH (inches)
    S 28 18
    M 29 20
    L 30 22
    XL 31 24
    2XL 32 26
    3XL 33 28
      LENGTH (cm) WIDTH (cm)
    S 71.1 45.7
    M 73.7 50.8
    L 76.2 55.9
    XL 78.7 61
    2XL 81.3 66
    3XL 83.8 71.1

    Shop with your confidence and conscience Intact