Chinese General Flown By Chinese-American Aviator
Tom Gunn was born Tan Gen is San Francisco, California’s Chinatown in 1890. He worked in an airplane factory as a teenager and built his own plane. “It is better to learn this business from the ground up than any other way.” He flew representing China in the 1910 International Aviation Meet in Domiguez Hills, Los Angeles – the first International Air Show in the US where he was dubbed the “Wright of China.” He later built his own flying boat and competed in the Chicago hydroplane contest. Gunn went to Honolulu where he was hired as a pilot and designer for Chinese-owned Zhonghua Air Vehicle Company where he demonstrated the first flying boat seen there. He flew his planes in Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines, once flying over a volcano. Gunn made more than 800 flights and carried more than 300 passengers in the Pacific region including the first de facto air passenger service in Hawaii when he took as a a woman tourist as a paying passenger. After the Qing Dynasty was overthrown China in 1911, Gunn was contacted by Sun Yat-Sen to help introduce the new republic to aviation.
On August 5, 1912 Tom Gunn was in Alameda, California flying with a special passenger, General Lan Tien Woi, formerly of command of the Manchurian Army of the Chinese Republic and currently in the US inspecting the US Army. Gunn flew Toi 1,000 feet and showed him many tricky maneuvers. Once on the ground the general stated that aviation will be introduce into the Chinese Republican Army.