As you’re travelling past the most southern foothills popping out of the Chao Phraya floodplain, you might notice an object on the the top of a nearby hill that looks rather odd. Its a radar!
Other side of the hill is the Takhli Toyal Thai Air Force Base. If you’re lucky, you might see one of the F-16 Falcons, or the L-39 Albatross from the attack squadrons.
The Base has an interesting history of partnership with the United States in Thailand’s fight against the common enemy of communism: In the 50s, the base was used as an operating base for the CIA c-130 Hercules to resupply Tibetan freedom fighters in their struggle against the Communist Chinese. Reconnaissance missions of the US-Airforce were also flown from here over Laos in the 1960s. Then, of course, the base was an important staging area in the United States’ operations during the Vietnam War. During that time, you could see the US Airforce’s Tactical Fighter Squadrons flying missions out of here with its fighter-bomber aircraft, such as the F-100 Super Sabres, F-104 Starfighters, F-105 Thunderchiefs, General Dynamics F-111s, and F-4 Phantoms. Boeing B-50 Superfortress and B-66 Destroyers were also used.
The Royal Thai Air Force has a rich history of its own since its founding in the early 20th century. Shortly before WWII, the (little remembered) Franco-Thai war saw them fighting the Vichy French’s Armee de l’Air, and achieving several dogfight victories. During WWII, they provided air support to the Royal Thai Army’s occupation of the Shan States of Eastern Burma as somewhat reluctant allies of the Japanese, and in defence of the Kingdom from Allied air raids. They also used C-47s in support of the United Nations in the Korean War, and in support of the Americans in the Vietnam War.
Get the audio guide
Download the Window Seater app - your offbeat guide to the world outside your window