Three great pilots

Joy Thom, Moon Chin, and Donald Wong in front of a Stinson, middle 1930s (Dona Wong photo — Donald’s daughter)

CNAC’s first three Chinese-American pilots: Joy Thom of Los Angeles, Moon Chin of Wing-Wa Village and Baltimore, Donald Wong of Chicago. All three were born American citizens, all three earned only one-third as much as their Caucasian counterparts – for exactly the same work and responsibility, and all three triumphed against whatever adversity they faced.

They began flying for the airline as co-pilots in the winter of 1933, when CNAC opened its “Route Two”, from Shanghai to Peiping (Bejing), and by 1936, all three had checked out as pilot captains. Joy Thom was killed in early 1941, trying to sneak under a storm flying a planeload of Chinese currency into the interior from Hong Kong; Moon Chin is alive and well today, living in Burlingame, CA and driving a jet-black Mercedes everywhere at 90 mph; Donald Wong flew for the airline 1933-1937, and again from 1942-1945, and the success of his life is perhaps most easily measured by his daughter, Dona Wong, a PhD on the faculty of Harvard University, who provided the above photo.

Writing about these three men was one of the great joys of China’s Wings.

Next: Moon Chin joins CNAC



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