Remember that beautifully restored DC-3? Here’s what it looked like with CNAC

China's WingsRemember that beautifully restored DC-3 I posted about before Christmas? The one that had once flown for the China National Aviation Corporation as CNAC No. 100 and had recently been returned to service in Pan Am livery by the Historic Flight Foundation?

Well, Liz Matzelle at the HFF managed to track down a photo of the airplane when it was in service with CNAC. (It was hiding in the archives all along, on the page of Captain Sam Belieff.)

CNAC No. 100 after a rough landing; Captain Sam Belieff with his hand on the engine nacelle.

Despite the laconic caption inked on the photo above, I’m pretty certain that the CNAC mechanics had No. 100 back in service within a few days.

(UPDATE: According to the story from Sam Belieff’s grandson posted in the comments below, CNAC 100 was back in the air the next day. Great detail!)

No anecdotes about the airplane made it into China’s Wings, my book about William Langhorne Bond and the madcap adventures of the China National Aviation Corporation, but the next plane in fleet number sequence most definitely does.

CNAC No. 101 was the C-47  in which CNAC wildman Jimmy Scoff died leaving Dinjan on the night of October 7, 1944, when a violent thunderstorm tore the wing off the plane (China’s Wings, pp. 358-359). Scoff was CNAC’s great wildman during the Hump years, the star of many of the company’s most legendary stories — most notoriously the time he shot the lock off the door of a whorehouse in Calcutta. (China’s Wings, pp. 326-327)

Here’s the report about Scoff’s fatal accident at Apparently the wing of Scoff’s airplane stayed stuck in a tall tree through the rest of the war.

China's Wings



  1. Mr. Crouch,
    I just stumbled across this page while searching around. I see you found my photo of my grandfather, Sam Belieff, on the CNAC website. Thanks for having it up. Thats my grandfather leaning up against the engine nacelle (Captain Morgan pose). I’d love to see what else you have on the CNAC. And I’ll be picking up your book soon, thats how I found your page.


    Eric Ludwig

    1. Thanks for checking in, Eric! I’ll add the identifier to the pic. I’ve got quite a lot of photos posted in the archives of the site. Can’t wait to hear what you think of China’s Wings. I only hope I’ve done the CNAC story justice. It’s a good one. Cheers, Greg

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