• View of mountains near Paoshan from CNAC Douglas C-47 (DC-3)  1945
Gifford Bull
photograph Courtesy of Chris Bull
  • Captain Ursel Elbert Coulson CNAC uniform hat  c. 1944
cotton, leather, felt, metal
Courtesy of Eve Coulson
  • Captain Roy Clinton Farrell CNAC uniform insignia  c. 1945
metal, enamel
Courtesy of Roy Farrell, Jr.
  • CNAC Douglas C-47 (DC-3) en route Dinjan to Suifu  c. 1944
James M. Dalby
photograph Courtesy of Chris Bull
  • CNAC ground crew fueling Douglas C-47 (DC-3), Suifu  1944
Gifford Bull photograph: Courtesy of Chris Bul
  • Nowhere to Hide
  • The wreck that was never found courtesy Capt. Fletcher Hanks
  • (from left) CNAC Captains Donald E. Bussart, Leon F. Roberts, Robert E. Rengo, and Carey E. Bowles  c. 1945
photograph Courtesy of Peggy Maher
  • Likiang
  • 1944 NY Parrish,Hall,Rengo,Maher,Tarbet
  • Capt. W.J. Maher with CNAC plane
  • Capt. W.J. Maher
  • Dinjan Barbeque - Parish - Smith - Maher
  • Flying over the Hump
  • CNAC #100 fueling up courtesy of Capt. Gifford Bull
  • Pouring fuel from 55 gallon drum into 5 gallon buckets which were carried by hand up the ladder and poured through a funnel and filter into the gas tanks courtesy of Capt. Gifford Bull
  • Loading cargo courtesy of Capt. Gifford Bull
  • Picture of the Hump -Sherwood
  • Over the Top of the World
  • Oct 31, 2014 Dawn over SFO Museum :: photo: Chad Anderson/SFO Museum


In 1940, during the Second World War, Japan’s Imperial Army held China’s seaports and eastern plains in a death grip. A lifeline from Allied supply bases in India, across the forbidding Himalayan mountain range in western China, was crucial.

After Japan cut the Burma Road, CNAC pioneered an air route over the Himalayans and became the sole supplier to China’s combat forces along with Clair Chennault’s American Volunteer Group-The Flying Tigers.

After Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt realized that the pathway to China must be kept open and supplied CNAC with planes commandeered from U.S. domestic airlines.

On the fifth of May, 1942, Japan’s elite Red Dragon Armored Division approached the last barrier to China’s back door-the mile deep Salween River gorge. If the Japanese crossed the river, China would be out of the war.

Flying Tiger P-40s and the Chinese ground forces destroyed the bridge. The Japanese hauled pontoons to the river’s edge while trucks and tanks snaked for miles along the Salween’s bank. Chennault’s Tigers fought them off. The remnants of Japan’s elite army turned back. Never before had an invading army been defeated solely by air power. It was a defining moment for the Flying Tigers, CNAC and for aviation history.

The treacherous Himalayas took their toll. At war’s end CNAC had lost 38 planes and 88 airmen along with over 600 ATC planes and their crews, flying the world’s most unforgiving terrain.

Historian William Leary In his book, THE DRAGON’S WINGS wrote,

“CNAC became the yardstick of efficiency for the massive undertaking by the Air Transport Command.”

Albert Wedemeyer, Commanding General, American Forces in China, said “Flying the Hump was the foremost and by far the most dangerous, difficult and historic achievement of the entire war.”

by CNAC Capt. Felix Smith

A Brief History of CNAC

Long before the men who came to be known as the Flying Tigers reached Rangoon, a small group of experienced transport pilots were flying a commercial operation in China which had been established several years before the start of World War II with Pan American World Airways holding an operating interest.  >> Read more

Distinguished Flying Cross Medal Air Medal

By direction of the President and with approval of the Secretary of the Air Force, each of the following China National Aviation Corporation personnel is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal Air Medal for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight during the period indicated.  >> Read more

Peggy Maher, CNAC Pres.  ::  P.O. Box 294449  ::  Kerrville, TX 78029  ::  830-896-5030  ::  or cell  830-370-4633  ::  Email