L-16s in Korea




An excellent report on U. S. Army L-16s in the Korean conflict can be found in “Frontline Report:  Lightplanes in Korea,” Flying Magazine, July 1951.


An Aeronca L-16 photographed over Wonju, Korea, 1950


          Early liaison aircraft lacked airspeed, armour, and armament, yet they have fulfilled some of the most dangerous roles in military conflict. 


They were the "grasshoppers" who flew low and slow over enemy territory, spotting artillery and monitoring enemy troop movements, then reporting back to attack co-ordinators to call in the heavy iron.


            Before the advent of the rescue helicopter, it was the liaison pilot who was sent to land at near-impossible sites to pick up downed aircrew, hauling wounded pilots from dirt roads and tiny jungle strips, often carrying far more weight than the frames of their tiny fabric-covered aircraft were ever designed to lift into the air.  That’s why the Canadian Bushhawks Liaison Squadron calls their story, “The Legacy of the Unsung Heroes”…




          On February 20, 1951, Captain John Olihovik of the U.S. 7th Infantry landed his L-16 in a creek bed behind enemy lines to rescue a Navy pilot from a downed Corsair.  Olihovik received the Navy's highest award for valour for the rescue.  His citation reads:


            When a Navy aircraft was hit by enemy ground fire and crashed into the riverbed of the Chu'chongang, Captain Olihovik, flying an unarmed plane, proceeded immediately to the area and, skillfully landing in the rough terrain, made his way on foot to the stricken aircraft despite intense, direct fire from enemy troops only 300 yards away.  Reaching and lifting the critically injured pilot, he carried him back to the rescue plane which was idling 100 yards distant.  Miraculously escaping almost certain death, injury or capture, Captain Olihovik took off and flew the injured man directly to the Chech'on airstrip where he was quickly transferred to a field hospital.  By his daring initiative and superb courage, he served to inspire other pilots to heroic efforts, thus contributing to the effectiveness of the striking power in the task force as a whole.  His selfless devotion to duty in the face of grave personal risk reflects the highest credit upon Captain Olihovik and the United States Armed Forces.


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