CHUNGKING

September 6, 2009

Dear Tom,

Thanks for the information. Here is what I have about the Chungking airport. This is from "In Search of History" by E. B. White published in 1978 by Harper and Row. White then was a young reporter who had just been offered a job by Time Magazine and was flying into Chungking.

" It was the first plane flight he ever took; late on a Friday evening he stood in line to board a Chinese Junkers plane which trundled down the runway of Kaitak Airport (Hong Kong?) seemed certain to hit the surrounding mountains, then rose in the air, leaving behind the blue and red and white lights that made bracelets about Hong Kong’s peak, and was off into dark China where no lights shone at night...(page 63)

"I arrived in Chungking on April 10, 1939, landing in the River. I looked about. The runway was a sandbar paved with stone, and on both sides of the sandbar the river rushed by, yellow and carrying the silt of Inner Asia down to the ocean beyond the gorges below. The airstrip was usable only from winter through spring, when the river ran low; in summer and early fall, swollen with melting snows of Tibet, the river flooded the airport. A footbridge now led across an eddy of the river to the foot of a gray cliff, and there above the cliff, ran the city wall of old Chungking.

"The pilot hurried us out, reloaded the plane with waiting passengers, then roared away at once before any marauding over flight might discover his plane on the ground and destroy itt. I was at last in a country at war, in its capital fourteen hundred miles from the sea, up the Yangtze River, four hundred miles beyond the Japanese lines.

"Sedan-chair bearers were called to carry me up the hundreds of steps carved into the cliff wall, and I was swung aboard a hammock of bamboo slats hung between two poles, a front bearer and rear barrier yoked to the poles. It was the first time I had seen men used this way as beasts of burden, and I remember noticing the brown calluses thicker than leather, on the bare shoulders of the lead barrier as he sweated his way up. (page 66)"

It would indicated that CNAC was using German JU 88 trimotor transports as the time, although White was not particularly knowledgeable about airplanes. There are later reports of people driving into Chungking from the (an?) airport so there must have been another possibility. CNAC would not have kept any aircraft anywhere near Chungking at that time since, in good weather, the Japs were bombing the area regularly.

I am a long way from even getting started on this book but I have your on my list.

Pat

(NOTE: Pat is gathering information for a book. He will let us know when he gets published. Tom)


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