The Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, Calif., is hosting a special event June 18 about the famed “Flying Tigers.”
A speaker panel of distinguished aviation experts, historians and veterans is featured, followed by a question & answer period, and the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk will be on display.
In December 1941, planes with painted shark’s teeth roared over Chinese skies. Their mission was to free China from Japanese invaders.
These planes were flown by the American Volunteer Group lead by Maj. Claire Chennault. This group would forever be known as “The Flying Tigers.”
Many stories have been told about the planes and the men who flew and worked on them. The Planes of Fame event will look at the evolution of the Flying Tigers and their adventures from China, 1941 to today with the current Flying Tigers.
On hand will be three Flying Tigers from the 14th Army Air Corp to share their stories.
Bud Heiner was a Flying Tiger, 14th Army Air Corp, second lieutenant, engineering and test pilot assigned to the 69th Depot Repair Squadron, Kunming, China. He flew all types of cargo, bomber and fighter planes that were being repaired or assembled to many bases all over China. He trained Chinese pilots to fly our planes.
Heiner was only one of four pilots who also drove the Burma Road and was responsible for a convoy of men and equipment to travel from India through Burma into China.
Mel McMullen, Flying Tigers 14th Army Air Corp, 308th Heavy Bomb Group, 425th Squadron, served as a nose turret gunner/assistant engineer. The plane was the Dragon Lady stationed in Kunming and Chengtu, China. They flew more than 200 hours of air combat missions and received the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross Society.
After the war Mel served as President of the Inland Empire Chapter of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society and former National Commander of CBIVA (China, Burma, India Veterans Association).
Retired Air Force 1st Lt. David K. Hayward won his wings and commission in the U.S Army Air Corps in 1942. He flew 53 combat missions as pilot of a B-25 medium bomber in the 22nd Bomb Squadron, in the China-Burma-India theater of World War II, for which he was awarded the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross.
In 1949, Hayward earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering at Caltech in Pasadena, Calif., and a Master of Science degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Southern California in 1956.
The Planes of Fame Air Museum is located at 7000 Merrill Ave., #17, Chino, Calif., and the doors open at 9 a.m. The speaker program runs 10 a.m.-noon.
The Mission of Planes of Fame Air Museum to preserve aviation history, inspire interest in aviation, educate the public and honor aviation pioneers and veterans. The museum sponsors regular events in the form of inspirational experiences, educational presentations, flight demonstrations and air shows in fulfillment of this mission.
For more information, visit www.planesoffame.org.