The Dragon’s Wings
China National Aviation Corporation and the Development of Commercial Aviation in China

William M. Leary Jr.

A bird's eye view of modern Chinese-American political and business history.


"Leary has done more than merely narrate history; has provided the reader with an intimate appreciation for the pulse-tingling experiences of the pilots in flight operations and given incisive treatment to the difficulties facing management. . . . The author has richly earned the gratitude of all scholars by his skillful narration of an important chapter of aviation history."
Technology and Culture

"Leary's depiction of the exceedingly primitive conditions in China gives one a fascinating glimpse of the triumphs and horrors of early aviation."
Pacific Historical Review

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The China National AviationCorporation (CNAC) played a significant role in the history of China. Surmounting massive technical problems, CNAC established the first air routesin China, connecting the commercial center of Shanghai with Canton, Beijing, andthe cities along the Yangtze River. Following the outbreak of the Sino-JapaneseWar in 1937, CNAC remained China’s sole means of speedy communication with theoutside world. Operating conditions were extremely hazardous because theairline was forced to fly under the worst possible circumstances to avoidJapanese attack. Before America’s entry into the Pacific war, CNAC pioneeredthe famous route over the Hump between China and India. The airline laterbecame involved in the Chinese civil war and frequently operated as aparamilitary adjunct of the Chinese Air Force.

William M. Leary Jr.’s studycombines history with personal drama to reconstruct an important chapter in theearly years of aviation. He has conducted intensive research in Americangovernmental archives, the Hoover Institution, and numerous librariesthroughout the United States, in addition to obtaining access to the records ofPan American Airways (who bought out CNAC in 1933). His history of CNAC offersinsights into the history of modern China and sheds light on several keyaspects of Sino-American diplomatic and business relations.
Page count: 280
22 b&w, 2 maps
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $24.95

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William M. Leary Jr. was aprofessor of history at the University of Georgia.