Intermountain Aviation

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Intermountain Airlines
Ceased operations 1975
Operating bases Marana Army Air Field

Intermountain Airlines, also known as Intermountain Aviation and Intermountain Airways, was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) airline front company. Intermountain performed covert operations for the CIA in Southeast Asia and elsewhere during the Vietnam War era.

Intermountain's main base of operations was Marana Army Air Field near Tucson, Arizona. In 1975 it was acquired by Evergreen International Aviation, a company that has acknowledged connections with the CIA. Other CIA "proprietary" airlines such as Air America and Air Asia also operated out of Marana during the Vietnam War years.

One of Intermountain's covert missions was Operation Coldfeet in which intelligence operatives were dropped in the Arctic to reconnoiter an abandoned Soviet drift station and then recovered using a Fulton Skyhook recovery system mounted on an Intermountain B-17 Flying Fortress. The modified B-17G, N809Z (now N207EV and can be seen at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon), had previously operated out of Clark Air Base, the Philippines, in an all-black scheme for the CIA for agent insertions and other unspecified covert operations in Southeast Asia.

Intermountain is alleged to have been involved in the delivery of a number of A-26 Invader bombers to be flown by Cuban exile pilots supporting the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

During its years in operation, Intermountain used several types of aircraft including the Curtiss C-46 Commando, the Lockheed L-188 Electra, the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter and a B-17 Flying Fortress which was outfitted with a Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, performed Arctic operations, and appeared at the end of the James Bond film Thunderball.

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References[edit]

  • James Bamford, "Body of Secrets : Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency", Anchor Books(2002), ISBN 0-385-49908-6
  • Brendan January, "The CIA", Franklin Watts ( 2003), ISBN 0-531-16600-7
  • Scott A. Thompson, "Final Cut - The Post-War B-17 Flying Fortress: The Survivors", Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula, Montana, Revised Edition, August 2000, ISBN 1-57510-077-0
  • The history of Intermountain Aviation, Inc., as a CIA air proprietary, is examined in Jason H. Gart, "Electronics and Aerospace Industry in Cold War Arizona, 1945-1968: Motorola, Hughes Aircraft, Goodyear Aircraft." Ph.D. diss., Arizona State University, 2006.