Civil Air Transport (CAT) "Lucky Dragon" Pin

Artifact Details

CIA went to great lengths to upkeep the illusion that the Civil Air Transport was a commercial airline.

Given as a souvenir to guests on CAT’s Mandarin Jet, the write-up that accompanied the pin states:

“This is one of the famous Oriental symbols of CAT (Civil Air Transport) – the five-toed dragon. In olden days only the emperor could wear this symbol; those of lesser rank wore dragons with fewer toes.  We like to think that all of our passengers on CAT’s colorful Mandarin Jet – truly a flying Oriental Palace – receive hospitality and cordiality befitting an emperor and his Lady.”

In August 1950, the Agency secretly purchased the assets of Civil Air Transport (CAT), an airline that had been started in China after World War II by Gen. Claire L. Chennault and Whiting Willauer. CAT would continue to fly commercial routes throughout Asia, acting in every way as a privately owned commercial airline. At the same time, under the corporate guise of CAT Incorporated, it provided airplanes and crews for secret intelligence operations.