John Lear Photo Gallery
John's CIA History

The CIA Chronicles, John Lear’s Vietnam War Secret Missions

The ATS MIX Team has been waiting to do this show with their good friend John Lear for quite awhile now. Inspired by their Military.Com fan base who expressed an interest about the Air America / Continental Air Services, Inc. days of the CIA secret missions during the war in Vietnam, Dave and Johnny cornered their good friend to get his candid and uncensored story of this particular time in his life as a pilot for the CIA.

John Lear was a pilot for Continental Air Services, Inc. (CASI), a Subsidiary of Continental Air Lines which was in existence from 1965 to 1975. It was formed in April 1965 by Continental Airlines at the suggestion of the United States Government. The objective was to provide a "less visible" air transport alternative to the CIA associated “Air America” for the growing Laotian support. Continental Air Services, Inc. (CASI) became operational in September 1965. Their pilots provided contract air support to Unites States Government activities. Continental Air Services, Inc. Ceased operations in 1975. 32 years later, John and his fellow CASI pilots and crew would finally get their just recognition.

ATS Mix interview at
Length: 95:26; file: atsmix_2768.mp3; size: 44737k; feed: atsmix 

Continental Air Services, Inc.

Air America

John Lear on final approach to the most secret CIA base in Laos, Longtieng
Laos Skyline
John Lear dropping ammo and supplies to the troops
General Vang Pao and John Lear. General Vang Pao led the 
Hmong soldiers with the CIA and United States troops in Laos
Here are my 8 passports. I always carried 2 because some countries hold your passport on entry.
If you have to make an escape you always have a backup passport

My $2 million dollar co-pilot job

John Lear and Air Sinai Boeing 707 in Rome

A few months ago I was posting about my aviation career and mentioned my $2 million dollar co-pilot job. I thought for sure someone would ask what a $2 million dollar co-pilot job was. But nobody did and I filed the story away. I came across it this morning looking for something else and I thought to myself 'I'm going to tell them the story whether they like it or not.

I had just gotten back to Vegas after flying 2 years in Egypt. I saw an ad in the LA Times for 707 captains. I had 2000 hours as captain in the 707 and sent in my resume. Apparently I made an error in my resume by including the time I had in a Cessna 150. I never heard back so I called a friend who worked at the company. The chief pilot doesn't like you. But he never met me. Yeah well he's the Chief Pilot. So I went to Kansas City to see the Chief Pilot to show him what a nice guy I was.. He was pissed! He told me he was not one damn bit interested in how much time I had in a 150 and told me in no uncertain terms to go take a flying leap.

I went back to Vegas and a couple of weeks later I head the airline owner was gambling at one of the casinos. I knew the casino manager and went over to see him. I told him I really wanted that job at this airline but was having trouble with the chief pilot and asked if he could help me. He said to wait in his office and he came back 10 minutes later and said, “Come on out John I want you to meet the owner. I was introduced and he said, “John its a pleasure to have you working as a pilot for us. Ground school starts on Monday!”

I thanked him and went back to the casinos managers office. “How did you do that?” He told me that the owner owed them about $5 million dollars and then he said that he told the owner that if he gave me a job they would take $2 million off of his account. They knew they weren't going to collect the money anyway.

I showed up the next Monday for ground school in Kansas City and was sitting in the classroom waiting for class to start and in comes the Chief Pilot. He comes over to me and says he thought he told me I wasn't welcome there. I told him to go see the owner. He goes stomping out and comes back 5 minutes later and says, “OK, but you are only going to be a co-pilot.” I didn't feel like arguing so I said, “No problem.”

And that's how I got my $2 million co-pilot job. The company went bankrupt about 6 months later, and I went to work for American Trans Air as a 707 Captain.

I was there for 5 years. I was a line captain, a check airman and the only FAA approved North Atlantic check airman. I also wrote their navigation manual and taught their navigation class.

One day a reporter called from a Houston newspaper. He said I had heard I knew a little about UFO's and asked if he could interview me. I told him yes under one condition: Don't mention my name or the company I worked for because I would be instantly fired. He promised and I told him what I knew about UFO's.

A few days later the story came out on the front page. The first sentence said, John Lear, a captain with American Trans Air....

The call came that afternoon. Report to Indy immediately, (Indianapolis was the companys headquarters).

I was escorted into the conference room where 4 company officials sat. The VP of Operations held up the story. “Did you give this interview​”? I said “Yes but...”

I was asked for my company I.D., my company credit cards and asked to sign a piece of paper that said I would not sue them if they paid me 6 weeks pay. I signed it and was out the door in 20 minutes. (this was 1989, you couldn't get away with that crap these days.)

Then I got a job flying DC-8's with a cargo company.....

Many ask me why I have had so many jobs. I tell them the truth: I am not the brightest crayon in the box, I have a smart mouth and a real piss poor f------- attitude.

Mystery Crew: Here is a story about my flights in the Saudi Gazette:
John Lear and “The Mystery Crew” of Continental Air Services, Inc

Rome with Air Sinai
Here is my Congressional commendation for my flights with CASI.
I flew 560 missions in Laos of which about half were combat
Here is a logbook entry for my Budapest-Mogadishu flights
Here is a page from the flights in Laos. December 14, 1972 is when I got shot down Note the entry.
This is a photo of Long Tieng where I flew out of. It was the most secret CIA base in Southeast Asia
With Bob Moberg USDEA Chiang Mai
Kabul Afghanistan with 2 friends
Saana North Yemen
Gen. Vang Pao CIA strongman in LAOS
My Bud G. Gordon Liddy
"I came across a photo of me and Robert Booth Nichols in my den probably just after 911 but I can't remember exactly. I believe that we are sharing a Cognac and discussing the lunar atmosphere" - John
John with Robert Booth Nichols


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