This afternoon, I completed the first part of the two-fold mission I set for myself when I embarked on this China’s Wings project. My son Ryan and I drove to Moon Chin’s house on the other side of San Francisco Bay and gave him one of my two advanced copies of China’s Wings.
Watching his face glow as he unwrapped the book, cracked its cover, and took a first flip through its pages is one of the great moments of my life. A moment of total satisfaction. I’m absolutely thrilled with the finished product — it is exactly how I’ve been imagining it these last eight years.
I’m deeply honored that Moon trusted me to tell the CNAC story. Quite simply, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without his wholehearted cooperation, and my most sincere hope is that I’ve been able to do the story justice.
My favorite day in the whole researching and writing process was the day spent at the same table over which I passed him his book in these photos. I spent that day talking about the events of the Hong Kong evacuation of December 1941 with Moon, Frieda, and T.T. Chen — all of whom participated in the evacuation. Toward the end of the afternoon, I apologized for taking so much of their time, and Frieda chirped out, “Don’t worry about it! This is all we sit around and talk about anyway.”
Through the years, Moon gave me dozens of hours of his time — he’s one of the most remarkable men I’ve ever met. Here’s my favorite picture of Moon Chin, taken in 1941, and here’s one of him and me, taken at the CNAC reunion this past September. Earlier in this blog, I’ve shared some of the details of his remarkable life. The stories start here, in All Roads Led to Moon Chin, and work their way forward in time.
The second part of my China’s Wings mission is to ensure that the story of the China National Aviation Corporation takes its rightful place in history. Aside from the incredible flying adventures, so many facets of this story are fascinating and significant: CNAC played a tremendously significant role in the American relationship with China in the 1930s and 40s — a time that continues to shape our relationship with the Middle Kingdom as it emerges from centuries of isolation and struggles to take its place among the world’s great nations.
Without doubt, the China National Aviation Corporation is the most successful Sino-American partnership of all time. May there be many others.
It’s truly a great story.
In April, Moon will celebrate his 99th birthday.