Air­craft flies fi­nal Hump to China

Plane do­nated to pre­serve mem­ory of Fly­ing Tigers, war­time al­liance

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHANG LI in Guilin, Guangxi and LI YINGQING in Kun­ming Con­tact the writ­ers at zhangli@chi­nadaily.com.cn

An ag­ing World War II-era C-47 air­craft, head­ing for Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion, landed at Kun­ming Chang­shui In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Kun­ming, Yun­nan prov­ince, on Sat­ur­day af­ter a com­mem­o­ra­tive “Hump” flight, widely known as the most dan­ger­ous air­craft route in China dur­ing World War II.

The plane will be do­nated by the Fly­ing Tigers His­tor­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion to the Fly­ing Tigers Her­itage Park in Guilin for per­ma­nent dis­play.

The Hump was one of the most im­por­tant air routes con­nect­ing China with al­lied forces in South Asia. Dur­ing the war, about 850,000met­ric tons of sup­plies reachedChina from In­dia via the route, though about 1,500 US planes crashed along the way — vic­tim to the for­mi­da­ble moun­tains of the Qing­hai-Ti­bet Plateau and their fickle, of­ten nasty, weather con­di­tions. Pi­lots said the huge ridges looked like humps, thus the moniker.

The Amer­i­can Vol­un­teer Group, also known as the Fly­ing Tigers, took on the dan­ger­ous mis­sion, and Amer­i­can C47s de­liv­ered the first, small load of sup­plies in July 1942.

The plane cur­rently has five crew mem­bers, in­clud­ing two from the United States and three from Aus­tralia. Their av­er­age age is above 70 years.

Larry Jobe, the cap­tain of Larry Jobe, the first flight who now serves as pres­i­dent of the his­tor­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion, said he wants to honor the men and women who risked their lives fly­ing the Hump and pre­serve the mem­ory ofwhatChi­naandthe United States ac­com­plished.

Be­gin­ning in Aus­tralia on Aug 13, the fi­nal flight over the leg­endary route was pretty smooth un­til In­done­sia, where one of the air­craft’s en­gines blew out. Af­ter six weeks of re­pairs, the plane took off again and fi­nally made it over the moun­tains to Kun­ming on Sat­ur­day.

“Un­for­tu­nately,” Jobe said, “be­fore land­ing in Kun­ming, we had to shut another en­gine down. The plane is not fly­able.”

As the sin­gle most im­por­tant air­craft for China’s sur­vival of the war, the C-47 once trans­ported fuel, am­mu­ni­tion and oxy­gen that China needed in theChina-Burma-In­diathe­ater.

“With­out the sup­plies, Burma and its fight­ers would be noth­ing­morethan ground tar­gets for the Ja­panese,” he said.

The plane has served many use­ful mis­sions dur­ing its life.

Be­fore the his­tor­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion bought the plane, it was used in movies, Jobe said.

“They painted it up and named it ‘Buzz Bug­gie’. We kept the name be­cause we found a B-24 Burma air­craft called Buzz Bug­gie had also flown theHump,” he said.

At the mo­ment, the plane can­not con­tinue its jour­ney. The plan is to fly it to Guilin af­ter re­pairs are made.

“Al­though she is in Kun­ming, she did cross the Hump and came back to Chi­nese soil,” Jobe said.

Al­though she is in Kun­ming, she did cross the Hump and came back to Chi­nese soil.” vet­eran pi­lot

LI ZHE / FOR CHINA DAILY

A World War II-era C-47 air­craft awaits re­pairs at Kun­ming Chang­shui In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Yun­nan prov­ince on Sat­ur­day af­ter a com­mem­o­ra­tive “Hump” flight.

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