Last Act in the Hainan Incident

In 1954, July 26 marked the first public news reports of and, concurrently, the final military aerial action of the Hainan Incident. Little known today, the Hainan Incident set the stage for the international isolation of China from the United Nations and the world community. Three days earlier, on July 23, two Soviet-built, propeller-driven Lavochkin LA-7 fighters with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), ruthlessly attacked and shot down a Cathay Pacific Douglas C-54 Skymaster that had been converted to civilian airline service. What would follow would be a miraculous and heroic tale of piloting and rescue that is almost unsurpassed in its intensity and heroism. This is the first of a three part story about the Hainan Incident.