The Official Site of Jon Helminiak
Speaker • Author • Adventurer
Jon Helminiak
Hmong T-28


Honoring a Select and Fearless Group of Combat Pilots

Jon, I can't begin to put into words how fortunate I am to have been able to work on the T-28 restoration and exhibit project with you. It has been an honor to be among dedicated pilots, historians and people who simply have a love for the realm of aviation.

Jon Helminiak and Koua Xiong

Jon and former Capt. Koua Xiong, 2500 mission
combat Pilot, U.S. Secret War in Laos.

Never have I been graced with such diverse and selfless group of people such as yourself who would go to extra lengths to make someone else's dream become a reality.

Former Capt. Koua Xiong
T-28 Pilot of 2500 Missions
U.S. Secret War in Laos

 See more dedication feedback.

Between May 2012 and September 2014, Jon Helminiak founded and led a major aircraft restoration and exhibit project at the Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin.

The T-28 exhibit honors the Hmong pilots who flew the North American T-28 "Trojan" and other aircraft from remote airstrips in support of American CIA covert operations during the U.S. Secret War in Laos between 1967-1975. With the help of T-28 airshow pilot Paul Walter, Jon found and acquired North American T-28 aircraft, BU (Bureau Unit) #138192, that was used to train Hmong pilots to fly at Udorn RTAFB (Royal Thai Air Force Base) Thailand, as part of Operation Waterpump.  After receiving many approvals for the exhibit, EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Chapter 766 began a six month restoration effort or the aircraft.

The Hmong T-28 Exhibit is the only exhibit of its kind in the nation that recognizes the sacrifice made by the Hmong pilots in the name of freedom to defend their homeland during the Vietnam War. The exhibit was dedicated at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 20, 2014, at the Aviation Heritage Center in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin and attended by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI). Other men who are honored by this exhibit are the Ravens (a brave and select group of clandestine American pilots who flew as Forward Air Controllers alongside the Hmong in Laos), and the T-28 Instructor Pilots of Det. 1, Special Operations Wing 56, who taught 37 select Hmong pilots to fly the T-28.

Senator Ron Johnson
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson addresses the Hmong pilots and the attendees at the dedication of the T-28 attack aircraft in their honor on September 20, 2014.
Jon Helminiak, master of ceremonies
Jon Helminiak, founder of the Hmong T-28 exhibit and Master of Ceremonies on dedication day. Standing behind him are Former Air Force One Pilot Greg Cayon and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson.
Jon Helminiak with pilots Yia Kha and Ya Lee
Jon Helminiak with former Hmong T-28 pilots Yia Kha and Ya Lee.
Former T-28 instructor pilots
Former T-28 Instructor Pilots who taught the Hmong to fly at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base also attended the Hmong T-28 dedication and celebration banquet.
Dedication reception
Pictured is the reception at the Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin flight museum prior to the dedication day celebration banquet.
Raymond Helminiak with Greg and Paige Cayon
Jon's father, WWII B-17 pilot Lt. Col. (Ret.) Raymond Helminiak attended the dedication ceremony. With him are Former Air Force One Pilot Greg Cayon and his wife Paige.
13 Hmong pilots
On September 20, 2014, 9 of the 13 living Hmong pilots who flew in the U.S. Secret War in Laos attended the dedication of a restored T-28 aircraft in their honor.
Hmong T-28 aircraft
Hmong T-28 aircraft, Bureau Unit No. 138192, restored through thousands of volunteer hours by the members of EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Chapter 766 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Trojan Horsemen Flight Performance
Five members of the Trojan Horsemen Flight Performance Team flew their T-28 aircraft at the conclusion of the dedication ceremony.