To view our Picasa Web Album ONLINE of the highlights from the surprise groundbreaking ceremony experienced at the old YangTang Airfield outside Guilin, China (known as "Kweilin"in WW II), China on our March 2009 tour, please click on the following link:

Picasa Web Albums - Flying Tigers Heritage Park - Groundbreaking Ceremony Highlights

To view our Picasa Web Album ONLINE of the NEW design plans for the museum building at the FLYING TIGERS HERITAGE PARK under construction at the same old YangTang Airfield, please click on the following link - [NOTE--link is currently not functioning but will be fixed soon]:

Picasa Web Albums - Flying Tigers Heritage Park - New Museum Plans_2011_03



Links to FLYING TIGERS web sites

1. A terrific web site for Flying Tigers aficionadas (& my personal favorite):

http://www.avglivinghistorygroup.com/

This site features a group of LIVING HISTORY folks who depict the famous Flying Tigers and is full of great links to more history, videos, photos, and even WWII music.

2.


For some basic background on the history of the Flying Tigers and the P40 Warhawk, click on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Tigers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteenth_Air_Force

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtiss_P-40


Note: If you are or know of someone who is a Flying Tiger from WW II (AVG or 14th AAF) - or flew with the CBI or participated as ground support for any of those - and would like to experience the special honor and esteem in which you are still held by the Chinese, as has been enjoyed by other Flying Tigers on our VIP Aviators' Tour these past six years, please call us at (866) 669-2288.


So many wonderful memories and photos to add to each year below, so little time! We have had the extreme honor of escorting a number of Flying Tigers and/or those from the CBI from WW II each year and need to add their stories, etc., when time finally permits - perhaps by the winter of 2014?

FLYING TIGERS - 2014 Tour

[Tour canceled for 1st time ever due to surgery complications. However, the 2015 tour promises to be the most amazing tour of all due to the special celebration of the new 16,000 sq. ft. Flying Tigers Museum at the new Flying Tigers Heritage Park site outside exotic Guilin, China. Be there!]

FLYING TIGERS - 2013 Tour

[Watch this space for the addition of photos and stories from our now completed 2013 tour. Suffice it to say that it was another phenomenal experience for all.]

FLYING TIGERS - 2012 Tour

[Watch this space for the addition of photos and stories from our now completed 2012 tour. Suffice it to say that it was another phenomenal experience for all.]

FLYING TIGERS - 2011 Tour

[Watch this space for the addition of photos and stories from our now completed 2011 tour. Suffice it to say that it was another phenomenal experience for all.]

FLYING TIGERS - 2010 Tour

[Watch this space for the addition of photos and stories from our now completed 2010 tour. Suffice it to say that it was another phenomenal experience for all.]

FLYING TIGERS - 2009 Tour

[Watch this space for the addition of photos and stories from our 2009 tour. Suffice it to say that it was another phenomenal experience for all.]

FLYING TIGERS - 2008 Tour

[Watch this space for the addition of photos and stories from our 2008 tour. Suffice it to say that it was another phenomenal experience for all.]

FLYING TIGERS - 2007 Tour

[Watch this space for the addition of photos and stories from our 2007 tour. Suffice it to say that it was another phenomenal experience for all.]

FLYING TIGERS - 2006 Tour
529th Fighter Squadron

[Watch this space for the addition of photos and stories from 2006 tour. Suffice it to say that it was another phenomenal experience for all.]

FLYING TIGERS - 2005 Tour

528th & 529th Fighter Squadrons



Our Flying Tigers and their wives, plus Larry and I, made a little history this year when we were invited into the pits at the Terra Cotta Soldiers Museum in Xi'an in honor of 2005 being the year in which we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of WW II. Up until this surprise experience, only 37 dignitaries from around the world had ever had this honor prior to the six of us - and that included only two Americans before us ... former Presidents G. H. W.Bush and Clinton. We have joined very rare company indeed. Larry was so excited that he bought two life-sized replicas afterwards from the museum store which were shipped home and recently arrived to guard both our house and guest house (aka, "the Hangar House"). Here you see Larry and me on the left followed by Mary and Mark McDonnell (528th FS) and Jean and Paul Crawford (529th FS). This photo was taken by a member of the press from the museum and E-mailed to me along with the following two. The photo on the left, below, shows Mark and Paul sizing up these "old warriors" and then deciding to salute them, soldier to soldier, in the photo on the right. That second photo appeared on the front page of newspapers all over China.
Both Paul and Mark brought along wonderful items to share with all of us as they told us their stories. Mark was shot down and had quite a tale to tell about his rescue and return to his unit. During the war, both the Chinese Nationalists under Chiang Kai-Shek and the Chinese guerillas under Mao Tse Tung were united to fight against the invading Japanese. Our fliers could depend on help from either group if they were shot down and were able to successfully bail out. The people in the villages would also offer amazing help and tremendous sacrifice to aid our boys.

Below is a photo of the P40, the first aircraft we used in China - first by the AVG (American Volunteer Group), known as the original Flying Tigers, and then by the 23rd Fighter group (which became part of the14th AAF - Army Air Force) when it arrived to replace them after war was declared by the US and they were trained enough to be sent over (beginning in the spring of 1942). Even though the original Flying Tigers are truly from the AVG group, both China and the US Government labeled ALL pilots who flew in China during WW II as Flying Tigers ("Fei Hu") - a name reportedly given the AVG first by Madame Chiang Kai-Shek.
 

Scenes from the Old Yangtang Airport near Guilin


Above left - the almost hidden entrance to the large cave used as command headquarters by General Claire Chennault who commanded both the AVG and the 14th AAF and was revered by his men. The photo on the right shows a carved stone tablet which states "The site of the command post of the Flying Tigers of the 14th Air Force US Army" and gives the date range of Dec. 1943 to Sep. 1944. I bring along a number of DVD's to play while we cruise up the Yangtze River, one of which shows this field being created out of a rice paddy, stone by stone, by 90,000 local peasants including old women and young children.

..... ..
Above left is Karl Bennett, NW Captain (now Delta) from the 2004 tour, standing on the rock that Chennault stood on to watch his boys in battle overhead. You, too, can stand on this rock. The middle photo shows the inscription created by Claire Chennault's widow which says "The rock on which Gen. Chennault stood to watch air combats." Each tour member receives a hand rubbing of this inscription at the VIP banquet in Guilin from the Vice Mayor in attendance. The last photo above shows the peasant who spoke to us through an interpreter in 2004 about his memories of helping to create the airfield and aiding the crew stationed there. We had several appear in 2005 along with a TV crew and news media who conducted interviews and filmed from within the cave interior and this has continued every year on our tour.

Below is a photo of the late Jim Dumas (we lost him in the fall of 2009) taken in July 2005 before we launched on a flight over Yosemite and the High Sierras. Incidentally, he had not lost his touch on the controls of an airplane! I show you his photo because Jim was a Flying Tiger living in Calif. who almost went with us one year and wanted to go every year but for his doctor's advice. He had the distinction of being the first pilot from the 14th AAF to set foot on Chinese soil as he reported for duty for the 23rd Fighter Group. As he told it, he was the first one to step off the C47 when it landed in China! He also has written a fabulous book by himself (no ghost writer, etc.) that my husband and I absolutely loved reading called "Longburst and the Flying Tigers." In his book he tells you how he got the nickname "Longburst" and it occurred right above that field and cave outside Guilin that we visit each year with special government permission - and now the site of the future Flying Tigers Heritage Park. He also had the distinction of having flown wingman for Tex Hill, probably the most famous Flying Tiger of all. Tex lived in Texas until his death in 2008. He, too, wanted to see the country that the Flying Tigers helped to save as he never returned to China following the end of WW II, but his doctor had even stronger adverse advice than Jim received. After all, these guys weren't 20 any longer!

To order your own copy of Jim Dumas' wonderfully written autobiography, "Longburst and the Flying Tigers," I will need to find out who is handling his remaining copies follwoing his death. You can view a photo of the book cover on the "Special Information" page on this website.
FLYING TIGERS - 2004 Tour

 528th Fighter Squadron

The 528th Fighter Squadron flew more missions than any other fighter unit in China – a total of 7,036! They received 126 Air Combat Medals, 73 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Silver Stars, 14 Purple Hearts, 2 Bronze Stars, and 8 Soldier Medals. They dropped over 1,527 tons of bombs and expended over 2.5 million rounds of ammunition.See the end of this page for great news about this remarkable squadron finally being awarded a Presidential Unit Citation - 60 years after all these accomplishments.

These are our four Flying Tigers who honored us with their presence in 2004 and showered us with marvelous stories of their experiences in China flying P51's against the Japanese. From left to right are Joe Walters, John ("David") Thompson, Bill Creech, and Hank Snow. Joe could brag he was the only one among the four here who was not shot down. David was shot down near the end of the war, rescued by the peasants in a nearby town, but later fell into the hands of a Chinese War Lord. Bill was shot down twice and became an expert on walking a long way out of a jungle alone and an expert on leeches - his only company on each solo journey. Hank was shot down but picked up by "friendlies" right away and returned to his unit. These four fellows had story after story and we never could get enough! It was the same in 2005 with Mark McDonnell and Paul Crawford.

Each day we invited one bus group into the Presidential Suite aboard ship to meet with the Flying Tigers and hear their stories in a more personal setting. The photo on the left, above, shows some of our national guides posing with our "celebrities" after such a session. The photo on the right, above, shows Karl Bennett (NW Airlines Captain - now Delta) giving background about the 528th Fighter Squadron. Karl was responsible for bringing the Flying Tigers to our tour. A (much older) cousin of Karl's, John Disney, had flown with the 528th and volunteered to stay on beyond his required 100 missions. He was shot down and killed on his 165th mission but his burial place in China has not yet been found. Another member of the 528th, David Sloan, was also shot down and killed just before the end of the war. One of his sisters, Catherine Sloan, was on the 2004 tour. Another sister, Diana Soward (and her husband Neil) came with us in 2005. David's remains were returned to the USA but only recently was Disney's final burial place found due to a lot of effort on the part of Karl Bennett. We were also honored by the presence of Evelyn Sizemore and her daughter. Evelyn's husband was flying "The Hump" and she was living with their children in China where she had learned the language and customs and grown very fond of the Chinese. She had to escape in great haste with the children very shortly after giving birth to a new child as the Japanese invaded their area. The people, the stories, the country old and new ... we all come home enriched.

The above photos show the kind of welcome that greeted us both inside and outside all the hotels and the cruise ship throughout the 2004 tour. The 2005 tour was the same but I don't have the photos from that yet.In Shijiazhuang (4 hours SW of Beijing) we were surprised by a band playing to greet us outside our hotel on arrival, along with a horde of TV and news media. Over 300 policemen blocked the roads for our buses to move easily about during our stay there. While we loved Shijiazhuang and all it offered, we have eliminated it from the 2006 tour and beyond because of the tiring 4 hour bus ride each way.

Above is a group photo from the 2004 VIP banquet in Chongqing showing three local dignitaries including the vice mayor and our four Flying Tigers - John ("David") Thompson, Joe Walters, Bill Creech, and Hank Snow. Also in the line-up are Larry Jobe, Karl Bennett, and K. C. Ma.

The above photo is from the Gen. "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell Museum in Chongqing and shows the island airfield in the middle of the Yangtze River used by the Flying Tigers. Below is a photo taken outside the Stilwell Museum. There is also a new Flying Tigers museum and art gallery across from the Stilwell museum that includes even more memorabilia. We are also treated to a short lecture by a remarkable WW II Chinese Flying Tiger while there.


In Shijiazhuang (SW of Beijing) we were able to examine China's first general aviation aircraft on the 2004 tour, the "Little Eagle 500" and even climb inside for a chance to get a feel for the space and comfort as well as a good look at the proposed panel. This turned out to be a big media event as we were the first Americans to have this opportunity. Two prototypes were brought to the company hangar and, once again, TV and newspaper folks were everywhere. A head table was set up for an official presentation and our Flying Tigers (plus Larry Jobe and KC Ma) were seated there as VIP's. This aircraft received certification while we were in Xi'an in March of 2005, so we missed seeing it in Shijiazhuang on that tour.

Each year, we also visit the largest aviation museum in all of Asia, located outside of Beijing. Special officials and dignitaries greet us and there is a ceremony with gift exchange followed by a docent led tour. The inside of the original museum is actually built inside a mountain and is very large. The collection is quite extensive and well presented. There are additional ACRES of aircraft displayed outside as well as a new msueum building housing even more aircraft. Our Flying Tigers have gotten a chauffeured transport. A United Airlines DC10 once flown by Larry Jobe (and other early new-hires at United long ago) was later donated to Orbis, the flying eye hospital, and is also on display there following its retirement and replacement by Orbis with a newer model.

The last photo above was everyone's favorite photo op at the museum - having our four Flying Tigers pose beside a P51 Mustang similar to the type they flew in WW II while based in China. And that's a good note on which to end the Flying Tigers' page!

BIG NEWS!!!!!!! - It took nearly 60 years, but the 528th Fighter Squadron was FINALLY granted a Presidential Unit Citation for their extraordinary record during WW II! There are many people to thank for their enormous effort on behalf of the 528th. I know Bill Creech's daughters were keenly involved (Bill has published a book I will be featuring on the Special Extras page soon!) and I also suspect Col. Mike Cosby, an F16 pilot who was also on the 2004 tour with us and has served in Iraq, had a lot to do with helping to spearhead this very overdue honor. Many on the tour also wrote to their Congressmen/women asking for support and we should learn which ones actually responded with help so we can thank them. The citation was presented to the members of the 528th present at their annual reunion in Seattle in early October of 2005. I was fortunate to join Stan and Sue Crawford from the 2004 tour to be there to witness this well-deserved and long-overdue honor.

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This page last updated August 16, 2014
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