Viewing page 39 of 96

Portland Press Herald-Portland, Maine-Tuesday Morning, February 17, 1942

China's First Need Is Planes Hongkong Aviatrix Declares


[[image - photograph of Miss Jane Hyde and Miss Ya-Ching Lee]]
[[caption]] Two aviatrices, Miss Jane Hyde, Cumberland Mills, and her house guests, Miss Ya-Ching Lee of China, discuss the Pacific theater of war operations. Miss Lee is a native of Hongkong, and is doing United China Relief work in this Country. [[/caption]]

"Planes, more than any other type of equipment, are China's need today," Miss Ya-Ching Lee, attractive, dark-eyed Hongkong native in this Country working for United China Relief, declared Monday afternoon at the home of Miss Jane Hype, Cumberland Mills, where she is visiting. 

Herself a veteran pilot who has logged more than 600 air hours, Miss Lee asserted that "this war has taught us the value of aviation." Even if Burma falls, she said, China will still be able to hold out, but will be forced to rely more on planes, especially transports, for vital supplies.

The Japs fear the Chinese soldiers in hand to hand combat, she related in perfect English, and given proper equipment the Chinese make better fliers than the Japanese.

"I hope the United Nations, for we have to think in terms of the United Nations now, will make use of our manpower," Miss Lee continued. Given equipment, the war-trained Chinese soldier is better able to fight the Japs, she said, and he can live off the land and dispense with a mass of equipment foreign soldiers require.

 Raven-haired Miss Lee predicted than civilian flying in this Country will play a big part in the war effort. Women pilots, too, will come in mighty handy for routine work, she emphasized, listing the many possible uses for light planes.

The bombing of Chapel by Japanese planes in 1932 awoke her interest in flying. She was in Geneva, Switzerland, then and began taking lessons. Coming to America later, she took a nine-month course in commercial transport flying at the Boeing school in Oakland, Calif., and here earned membership in the Caterpillar Club when she fell from a plane during maneuvers when her safety belt came loose. 

"I was more angry at myself for having let it happen," she said of her emotions as she floated down by parachute two miles out in San Francisco Bay. Her pilot sped back to the naval airport and an amphibian raced out to her rescue after she had floated 25 minutes in the water after cutting herself loose from the 'chute. 

Miss Lee has flown all over her native country "to promote aviation and air-mindedness" among China's millions. Although she didn't fly to Portland, Miss Lee has used a plane almost exclusively in her United China Relief work the past three years and has touched every state but North and South Dakota. Her only complaint was that her work has kept her so busy lecturing and meeting people she hasn't had time to see the Country.

Her own home now ravaged by the Japanese hordes, she confessed occasional homesickness and revealed she had to cancel a trip home planned for next month. She has had no word from her family since the fall of Hongkong.

From its New York headquarters, the United China Relief organization is endeavoring to raise five million dollars for war relief and reconstruction work in beleaguered China. With more than three million raised, the drive for the remainder will be intensified in early April, Miss Lee revealed. 

"More than 50 million Chinese, more than a third the population of the United States, have been driven from their homes along the seacoast and forced to migrate a thousand miles inland, the flier related. These people must be rehabilitated and given work and yet most of China's industries have been destroyed, she said. To solve the problem "vest pocket industries" are being established and already 3,000 such businesses are flourishing. Soap, candles, shoes and clothing are among the myriad small articles turned out by the industries, not one of which employs more than 300 workers.
 
Miss Lee expects to return to New York within a few days after her visit with Miss Hyde, another aviatrix, whose acquaintance she made during a mass flight to the Miami air races.
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact transcribe@si.edu.