Charlie Finch and Doc Clement will discuss their years they flew with the 220th Catkillers. They will be joined by Bob Schrader, known as “Caribou” Bob. Bob will share his stories about his time flying the Caribou.
The Cessna L-19 “Bird Dog” and the De Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou owned by the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas will be the back drop for this. The L-19 received the name Bird Dog as a result of a contest held with Cessna employees to name the aircraft. The name was chosen because the role of the army's new aircraft was to find the enemy and orbit overhead until artillery (or attack aircraft) could be brought to bear on the enemy. While flying low and close to the battlefield, the pilot would observe the exploding shells and adjust the fire via his radios, in the manner of a bird dog (gun dog) used by game hunters. During the Vietnam War the Bird Dog was used primarily for reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment, radio relay, convoy escort and the forward air control of tactical aircraft, to include bombers operating in a tactical role. During the course of the Vietnam War, 469 O-1 Bird Dogs were lost to all causes. The USAF lost 178, the USMC lost seven, and 284 were lost from the U.S. Army, South Vietnamese Forces, and clandestine operators. Three Bird Dogs were lost to enemy hand-held surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).
The Caribou was used during the Vietnam War, where larger cargo aircraft such as the C-123 and the C-130 could not land on the shorter landing strips, it could carry 26 fully equipped paratroopers or 20 litter patients or two Jeeps. As a cargo aircraft it could haul more than three tons of equipment. The rear loading ramp could also be used for parachute dropping.