Cambodian coup prompted airlift

After a coup in Cambodia created a volatile and uncertain security situation, C-130 Hercules transports from No 36 Squadron mounted a one-day airlift of Australians and other foreign nationals from the capital, Phnom Penh. During 6–10 July, six aircraft had been pre-positioned at Butterworth air base, Malaysia, in case they were needed. On this day, four of the Hercules carried out Operation Vista. Over the course of the day, six flights were made into the heavily-damaged Pochentong Airport and a total of 455 people (278 of them Australians) were evacuated to Penang, Malaysia. The airlift was without incident, apart from the discovery in Malaysia of nine young Cambodian stowaways who managed to board the first flight out of Phnom Penh; this group was put on a RAAF flight back to Cambodia. Another 12 Cambodians had to be turned away after they were detected among evacuees queuing for a later flight.


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