Early USAF Reconnaissance in Southeast Asia The first USAF missions in the Southeast Asia War were reconnaissance flights. These top-secret flights confirmed communist activity in South Vietnam and Laos and led to greater U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. A camera-equipped C-47 flew the first missions until it was shot down by anti-aircraft fire in March 1961 (killing all but one aboard). The USAF then used an RT-33A under the code name PROJECT FIELD GOAL and later fast, highly-capable RF-101Cs under the code names PIPE STEM and ABLE MABLE. Click here to return to the SEA Reconnaissance Overview.