Consul General of China Li Qiangmin (10th from left), ex Flying Tiger pilots (in hats), General Chennault's granddaughter Nell Chennault Calloway (8th from left) and other dignitaries cut the ribbon for the opening ceremony of the General Chennault Flying Tiger [flight] Academy. MAY ZHOU / CHINA DAILY
The General Chennault Flying Tiger Academy officially opened its doors with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday at Lone Star College in Conroe, a small city north of Houston.
Nell Chenault Calloway, granddaughter of Maj Gen Claire Lee Chennault, who founded the Flying Tigers during World War II, said that the 2017 opening date commemorates the 80th anniversary of Gen Chennault traveling to China in 1937.
"My grandfather went to China 80 years ago," Calloway said. "He realized what he needed to do and started to train Chinese aviators. In 1941 he came back and recruited a group young men, formed the American Volunteer Group, later known as the Flying Tigers.
"If we can teach this history of the two countries we are able to inspire them and let them know that they can make a difference. This school will teach the history of the two countries. That will be part of the curriculum," added Calloway, who is also director of the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum in Monroe, Louisiana.
Calloway said the academy will teach flying in the spirit of her grandfather as expressed in his own words:
"It is my fondest hope that the sign of the Flying Tigers will remain aloft just as long as it is needed and that it will always be remembered on both shores of the Pacific as the symbol of two great peoples working toward a common goal in war and peace."
Consul General Li Qiangmin said that "the Flying Tigers are a symbol of China-U.S. friendship deeply rooted in history. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The Chinese people will always remember the help provided by Chennault and his pilots."