The Naval Air Facility detachment at Tan Son Nhut was a Naval aviation organization that had special meaning to the thousands of Sailors throughout the Mekong Delta and along the coast of the Republic of Viet Nam.
Mail, emergency repair parts for PBR river patrol craft, general supplies and transportation to Saigon for R&R flights are a sampling of the services provided by White Hat Airlines.
The small detachment was stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon and holds the distinction of being the Navy's only "In-country" airline charged with the task of supporting all Naval Forces in the central and southern regions of the Republic of Vietnam.
White Hat Airlines was responsible for supporting Market Time and Game Warden Operations, Moblie Riverine Forces, and all of Naval Support Activity, Saigon's detachments and mobile bases.
The unit evolved from a Naval Support Activity Detachment which was activated in June of 1966 with only one aircraft. At that time it was known as "Aircofat". In July 1968, the unit was reassigned to become a detachment of the U.S. Naval Air Facility, Cam Ranh Bay with LCDR
Robert J. Tomenendal designated as the first Officer-in-Charge.
The detachment grew rapidly due to the increased Navy committment to the Republic of Vietnam now having eight aircraft consisting of three C117D's and five UH-34D helicopters.
A high degree of professional "know-how" was required to conduct operations under the adverse conditions found in Vietnam. The C117D's regulary landed on short metal runways and dirt strips only 65 feet wide. There was little or no prepared surfaces on the runway edges or overrun leaving virtually no margin for error.
The helicopter operations were often conducted near maximum weights, with landings on ships and barges. Some landings required the combined efforts of both the pilot and crewman. Other common landing spots were soccer fields, dirt roads and rice paddies.