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Palace Lightning - USAF Withdrawal

Udon had come a long way since the first American personnel arrived in the early 1960’s. With the fall of both Cambodia and South Vietnam in the spring of 1975, the political climate between Washington and Bangkok had become very sour. Royal Thai Government wanted the USAF out of Thailand by the end of the year. Palace Lightning was the plan which the USAF would withdrawal its aircraft and personnel from Thailand.

The 432nd with its two remaining aircraft squadrons began phasing down for deactivation. On 30th June 1975, both the 14th Tactical Reconnaissance and the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadrons were deactivated and their aircraft being sent to Clark Air Base Philippines for reassignment.

On 14th November 1975 it was announced the Udon RTAFB was being closed. The 432nd was deactivated in place on 23 December. It was reactivated in 1976 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Arizona as the 432nd Tactical Drone Group.

The last USAF personnel departed in January 1976 and the facility was turned over to the Thai government. It is now operated by the Royal Thai Air Force with aircraft from the 2nd Air Division being based there.

Current Use

It serves only flights to Bangkok and Chiang Mai, but as of January 2005 the Bangkok route is  competitive: you have the choice of THAI, Air Asia, Nok Air and One-Two-GO for this brief 50-minute hop, a total of 11 flights per day. THAI's  rates are closer to 2300 Baht, but Air Asia will fly you for about 700 Baht if you book well in advance. For no obvious reason other than perhaps anticipation of even more demand, a brand new terminal has been completed and opened in 2006.

Thai Airways flight landing at Udon Thani Airport

Udon Thani Province Page 10, Thai Airways flight landing at Udon Thani Airport
Udon Thani Province Page 9, Udon Thani Air Base and Air America Udon Thani Province Page 11, Sri Thani Golf Forest, Golf Club, Udon Thani, Thailand