During this year’s SUN ‘n FUN, a group of Chinese and Americans gathered beside the B-25J “Panchito,” an aircraft similar to the one used during the famous Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.
The Chinese came to honor American airmen who fought with the Chinese against the Japanese in World War II. In particular, they commemorated the Flying Tigers.
The Flying Tigers were American pilots who volunteered to help the Chinese fight the Japanese. They flew P-41 Warthogs. Chinese farmers and villagers protected the Flying Tigers and kept them safely beyond the reach of the Japanese.
In retaliation, the Japanese massacred a quarter of a million Chinese citizens. The American government did not learn about the massacre until after the war.
The Chinese guests included De Qiu Jiang, the chief test pilot for the Chinese Air Force, and Yan En Yu, chairman of China’s largest airline.
Welcoming the Chinese were representatives of the EAA Warbirds of America: Executive Director Bill Fischer, Vice President Jim Tobul, Past President Rick Siegfried, and Board Member Jim Olzacki.In an exchange of gifts, the Chinese presented three red and gold banners written in English and Chinese about the Flying Tigers and the common bond formed with the Chinese people during World War II. The EAA Warbirds of America presented the Chinese guests with an EAA book about aircraft and commemorative pins.
One of the banners read “The sacrifices, honor and heroism of the Flying Tigers that fought for the Chinese people will forever be remembered by the people of China. The heroic stories of the Flying Tigers will be told for generations.” Another read “Remember History. Cherish Peace.”
Fischer said he would love to “bring vintage aircraft to China on a goodwill tour.” This elicited a round of applause.
One of the Chinese suggested that this would be a good time to call President Trump to arrange it while the Chinese President was meeting with Trump in Florida.