The Ambassador in Colombia (Wiley) to the Secretary of State
[Received 11:03 p.m.]
142. Reference Department’s telegram 109, February 18. I approve list of 62 airplanes for offer to Colombians now. However, the 40 aircraft listed my telegram 72, January 21 represent maximum Colombians can handle for a considerable number of months to come and probably all they would wish to request at this time. Should it appear desirable I have no objection to non-significant substitutions of types being decided at technical levels. Due to Presidential elections May 6 and inauguration August 7, I suggest that initial flight delivery increments of airplanes arrive here by mid-April to obtain maximum credit by avoiding period of national preoccupation with elections. I further suggest that delivery additional increments be synchronized with inauguration in order to obtain prestige with new administration. I also suggest showmanship in delivery of these aircraft by delivering [Page 658] each increment within several days after notifying Colombians thus avoiding prolonged anticipation, by coordinating with this Embassy for publicity and arrival ceremonies, and by having various increments land initially and remain overnight at different important cities such as Barranquilla, Medellin and Cali. PBYs should land initially at airfield Cartegena, principal Colombian naval base. All increments should subsequently visit Bogotá for several days before final allocation to various airbases. If practicable all arrivals should be scheduled for about 3 p.m. or 10 a.m. to facilitate attendance. I further suggest that US aircrews remain until novelty of new aircraft has worn off and Colombian personnel adequately indoctrinated, thus reducing chance of unfortunate crashes diminishing effectiveness of aircraft deliveries.
President Lleras has again taken occasion personally to urge upon me Colombia’s most urgent need for promptest delivery of the 2 PBY’s stating that Government was threatened by being cut off from remote but important areas of Colombia.