Flying Tigers

Image from the Flying Tiger Website

During autumn 1956 I was old enough to enlist in the USAF. I wanted to become a CW radio operator, sending and receiving Morse code. However, a series of tests suggested I was better suited for fixing for stuff. That resulted in a year-long electronic school that prepared me to become an aircraft maintainer, an Airborne Navigation Equipment Repairman. (This title was later identified as Avionics when the navigation field became larger and began shifting toward solid state devices and microprocessors.) But, as an Airborne Navigation Equipment Repairman my first permanent duty station was Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina.

Charleston Air Force Base was, among other things, the customs inspection point for military flights inbound from Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. It became a gathering spot for aircraft of every description, a very busy place open for business around the clock..

Shortly before dawn, one given morning, while returning to the shop after several hours repairing a C-121. This was when I spotted my first C-46 which immediately reminded me of an obese C-47. In bright red letters the words The Flying Tigers Airlines were painted in red above the windows on the fuselage. Unfortunately, it was one of those events that are often lost on the youth. I let the moment pass. When Internet became a reality did I mentally return to that moment with questions. Who were these people?

If I’ve not misunderstood the results of my investigation, the founders of The Flying Tigers Airlines were the same volunteers who brought air cover to the Burma Road during World War II.

If only I’d stopped long enough to ask the flight crew some questions.