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Ace & Hump Pilot Arthur Tien Chin

Acquaintances commented in his later years that it was difficult to tell his age; most of his face had been burned away and the scar tissue now covering it was smoother than his natural skin would have been. He had been movie-star handsome, but about all that was left of his original face were his eyes, protected from the inferno by his goggles. How did those eyes keep their twinkle?

Especially after all he had been through – frustrations; crashes, defeats; after his first wife had died in his arms, shielding his terribly wounded body from Japanese bomb fragments? Yet, after all that, he had stood erect at a microphone in New York, with then-superstar George Raft by his side, campaigning for war bonds, posing for photos with his pipe jutting out at a jaunty angle. And when he was well enough, he went back to flying, this time in transports over the Himalayas, on a route so dangerous that it became known as the “Aluminum Trail” because of the hundreds of airplane wrecks that marked its course. Born and raised in America, Art entered history as an ace fighter pilot of the Chinese Air Force with eight air-to-air kills to his credit, all achieved in the skies of China before his own country officially entered World War 2.

To read more see "World War 2 Flying Ace Art Chin" on Disciples of Flight. Photos courtesy Mr. John Gong.