China begins salvaging 'Flying Tigers' wreckage
( 2003-08-08 08:12) (People's Daily)
Chinese explorers began Thursday to salvage a wrecked fighter plane used by the "Flying Tigers" during World War II from Dianchi Lake in southwest China's Yunnan Province.
Yan Jiangzheng, chairman of the China Expedition Association, who is in charge of the operation, said efforts would be made in the next five days to detect the site of the wreckage and the geological structure at the bottom of the lake, which covers over 300 square kilometers.
Yan's association started to search for the debris of the wrecked fighter plane in 1998. Their methods included magnetic prospecting of the site, interviews with crash witnesses and villagers who helped recover the body of the pilot, John BlackburnIII.
Yan said they found the plane buried under three meters of siltmore than 60 years after it plunged into the lake in a training accident on April 28, 1942.
It would take another 30 days to clear the silt, said Yan, adding the plane was expected to be recovered at the end of October this year.
The "Flying Tigers" were formed over 60 years ago by General Claire Lee Chennault, commander of the U.S. 14th Air Fleet during World War II, to transport arms and other materials, and to support China's fight against the Japanese invaders.
Some of the Tiger pilots were killed during the war and people have been searching for their remains in China's southwestern mountainous regions.
Yan's association has concluded the wrecked plane is a P-40 fighter.
The salvage operation, being carried out by the China Expedition Association, has attracted the attention of many American veterans of World War II.
The Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation has consulted 14pilots and ground crew of the Flying Tiger Fleet about the crashedplane and the fate of its pilot.
The foundation sent a letter to the China Expedition Association in March
2000, stating the facts of the crash and thatthe body of pilot had been
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