The Chungking Airport, probably in 1938


Ramshackle constructions on Chungking’s Sanhupa Airport, which was build on a sandbar island in the Yangtze below the city. (Shirley Wilke Mosley Collection)

Chungking’s Sanhupa Airport, probably in 1938, which had the feel of a frontier colony. Because it was built on a Yangtze sandbar, all the buildings on the island were temporary, so they could be moved uphill and inland on short notice — floods submerged the island every summer, usually to a depth of thirty feet, swooshing a 12-knot current over its top. In the middle 1930s, an army of coolies had ferried locally quarried stone slabs to the island and jigsaw puzzling them into a 2,150 foot runway that could survive the floods. It also proved to be nearly-bomb proof — the Japanese started attacking Chungking in 1939, and their raids continued for three years. They never knocked it out of action.

On the flightline are two DC-2s and a Stinson Detroiter. Against the building in the foreground are the carcasses of two Loening Air Yachts.

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