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Later on, several Army officers got their private pilot certificate at the Phnom-Penh Flying Club. Some of them joined the Aviation Royale Khmère (AVRK), when it was created in 1954.
In 1940, during the conflict over Cambodian western provinces between France and Thailand, ally of Japan, it seems there were no Cambodian pilots among the French aviators. We pay tribute to all the French aviators who fought in the Cambodian sky but may our French friends forgive us, this is part of another Story....
1945 after the departure of the Japanese forces, the only remaining
Air Force in Cambodia was the French Armée de l’Air. It continued to
provide air transport and some close air support missions during the
Indochina War. In 1953 the French finally made plans for an autonomous
military Khmer Aviation.
instructors at the Royal Flying School were exclusively French. At the end of their training,
four of Class One students were selected to attend a complete three years French
training cycle at the French Air Academy, Salon de Provence (Class
... Class 1, 1954 ..continue...
the beginning of 1955 the Royal flying school began to receive the first brand new Morane Saulnier 733 training aircrafts.
1955 Class Two
Between 1955 and 1956, there were several incursions of Vietnamese communists in Cambodia but the young and still organizing AVRK played no role in pushing them back. Its first pilots were in fact still in advanced training stages in France and the newly organized Intervention Group was not yet fully operational.
There was no recruitment for the Royal flying school in 1956, but three Cambodian air cadets entered the French Air Academy and Air Military School at Salon de Provence for administration, telecommunication and technical courses (see Salon 1956). The Americans started to deliver eight Cessna L-19A Bird Dogs and three DHC L-20 Beavers. In France the advanced trainings continued with good results.
In 1957 there was again
no recruitment. After following a special preparation-course, the air
cadets sent to Salon in 1955 successfully graduated, but they would be
the last ones for there was no more air cadet pilot sent afterwards to
the French Air Academy. Only advanced training continued to
take place in France in the subsequent years. For some unknown reason,
overall, there was little recruitment during the fifteen years of the
From 1957 to 1958, seven C-47s and fourteen T-6G Texans
were delivered to the AVRK by the United States Military Assistance
Advisory Group (USMAAG). Two C-47s were bought from Israel.
- the Observation and Accompanied in Combat
Transport Group, as it had done since the beginning, carried out
regular flights for the benefit of the new provinces of Koh Kong,
Rattanakiri, and Mondulkiri.
Inventory 1958 (source A.Grandolini)
1958 Class Three
Indochina, the general trend of France policy was toward the withdrawal
from the area, letting the Americans stepped in and get more and more
involved in neighboring Vietnam. On the contrary, in Cambodia, the
French military continued to play an important part in the development
of the AVRK.
1960 Class Four
Before being considered as "Aspirant" (Officer Cadet), two years of studies are now mandatory.
Transport Group accomplished innumerable flights to the foreign
countries for the numerous official visits of the Chief of State. At
the beginning, the crew members for the Chief of State’s airplane were
exclusively French. The others airplanes were flown by Khmer crews. In
1960, the Transport group took its first trips for a long overseas
journey to Cairo, Belgrade, Zagreb, and Skopje.
A small group of pilots went to Lackland AFB to fly on American Jets. Several other, after their training in France, were sent to Russia for conversion-training on Mig-15s and Mig-17s. It was not enjoyable experiences.
1962 Class Five
1962, the AVRK started to take part in combat operations. The
AVRK T-6Gs carried out air supports to the Khmer ground troops in the
region of Takeo. They drove a group of armed Vietnamese belonging to
a religious sect of Dao Hòa Hào away from Cambodian
soil. This group progressively came to settle in Cambodia
and then expelled the Cambodian peasants from their lands.
1963 American T-37s and Russian MIG-15s and MIG-17s
French Fouga Magister CM-170 jet airplanes, the USA delivered the
T-37s. A few months later, the Russians brought in the MiG-15UTIs, and
Mig-17Fs. One year later, the Chinese came with additional MiG-17s. The
AVRK was now equipped with a hundred aircrafts of different types. This
variety of aircrafts was nothing else than tremendous logistic problems
for maintenance and supply. Moreover, the Chief of State, Sihanouk,
ordered the United States Military Assistance Advisory Group (USMAAG)
to leave Cambodia in January 1964. The American technical support was
then subsequently suspended. Fortunately, AVRK had an excellent
technical department with highly qualified technical officers and
non-commissioned officers, as well as a staff of French advisers, who
were able to fill in some of the deficiencies. In 1964, the technical
services then started to perform general overhauls for the MS-733s,
Cessna 170s, 180s, L-19s, and carried out partial overhauls of the
C-47s and MD-315s. The C-47s for their complete overhauls were sent to
the Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAECO). For the T-28s and
the helicopters, the AVRK mechanics dismantled the engines and we
conveyed them in our C-47 cargos to the HAECO as well for a complete
check and repairing. Overall, the AVRK managed to keep a high training
level for its pilots.
1963 Class Six
Diplomatic relations and the Chief of State trips to foreign countries increased at a good pace during those years. Steadily, the AVRK staff officers also started to take part in military and diplomatic delegations.