During the summer 2006, I have had the opportunity to travel to Qui Nhon, to relax on the sandy beaches far from the hustle and bustle of the modern TP Ho Chi Minh, the old Saigon. Traveling from the ex-southern capital was by air and the airport on the final destination was Phu Cat. I did not know what to expect since the airport was considered as remote from everything worth a visit, yet I was excited to finally fly to a place unknown to me.
Construction of the Air Base started in 1966. The location had been chosen for its proximity with the coastal plains of central Vietnam. By June, a temporary dirt airstrip was operational and engineers from the 819th CES were sent from the USA in August to build the main base, barracks and a concrete runway. It was not until December that heavy works started on the runway which finally opened in May.
Phu Cat Air Base was the home of the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing from 1 March 1967 to 31 March 1970, its squadrons flying the F-100. During that time, the infamous Misty Forward Air Controllers, flying Fast FAC missions were also located at Phu Cat. Following the inactivation of the 37th TFW, the 12th TFW moved in with two F-4 Phantom II squadrons and remained there until 17 November 1971.
Several units sent detachments to Phu Cat, such as AC-47s and AC-119s of the 14th ACW/SOW, aircraft from the 12th ACS/SOS Ranch Hand unit and HH-43s for Det. 13, 38th ARRS, to name a few. Security Police “Safe Side” project was tested at Phu Cat.
Phu Cat AB was transferred to the South Vietnamese Air Force on 1 January 1972 and was operational until it fell to the North Vietnamese on 31 March 1975. Since then, the base saw little use and the runway has been opened to civilian flights.