A windsock hung limp from a pole that sprouted from the roof of the largest commercial hangar in China; it might have been the largest in Asia, capable of holding six single-engine airplanes. A line of offices snuggled against the side of the building closest to the river, and a door accessed the gravel parking lot where Moon Fun Chin, a callow, smooth-faced Chinese wearing his best suit under a heavy winter coat, stood watching the proceedings with his “little uncle” – his father’s younger brother. Moon Chin had recently learned to fly, and he awaited the attention of William Langhorne Bond, the thirty-nine year old, ruddy-faced, former gravel contractor who walked back from the dock with his gray overcoat drawn tight over a carefully-tailored suit. As Bond came closer, Moon saw that he had a thin face and a bent nose that looked like it might have once been broken. Close-cropped strands of reddish hair showed beneath his hatband, and the toothbrush mustache that edged past the corners of his mouth drew attention from piercing, gray-blue eyes. They had an appointment. Moon quashed his anxiety and did his best to look steady and responsible. He was three months shy of his nineteenth birthday, and he’d never met such an important man.
Bond furrowed his brow and studied the young Chinese. His cheeks sank toward his jaw line. Then he smiled. Bond never could hold a scowl for long. He loved aviation, he loved China, and he ran the China National Aviation Corporation, China’s most important airline. Moon Chin didn’t know much about William Bond, not then, but he wanted something from the American very badly in that hard winter of 1933, and he’d come halfway around the world to get it: He wanted a job.