? - 01/24/2017
THE BLACK CAT SQUADRON
LOST BLACK CATS
Published in Power History, Spring 2002
Available online @
by H. Mike Hua
AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana
208 pagesPaperback (6x9) ISBN 141849917X $13.50
Dust Jacket Hardcover (6x9) ISBN 1418499188 $22.00
Click on links above
General Hua's book can also be ordered directly from the publisher by calling 888-280-7715
Lost Black Cats: Story of Two Captured Chinese U-2 Pilots
To: Former Taoyuan Bandits, the U-2 community and those interested in a good story
From: Joe Donoghue
(I was in the command post at Taoyuan the night Jack Chang was shot down. We knew within minutes that the Chicoms had cancelled their air defense alert but I spent the next several hours monitoring the HF and UHF radios hoping that Jack might somehow still be airborne and making his way back to base. The next morning I tuned-in Radio Peking on an R-390A radio receiver and heard the announcement that the U-2 had been shot down but the announcer made no mention of the fate of its pilot. We Americans and Chinese in the Black Cat Squadron assumed that Jack had not survived and so I still believed till I attended a reunion in 1983 and heard an excited John Raines tell the story of how he had welcomed Jack and Robin to the US. The following is my brief review and hearty recommendation of a new book by General Hsichun "Mike" Hua.)
On 1 November 1963, Major Changti "Robin" Yeh's U-2 was shot down over mainland China and he was captured by Communist forces. The saga of Yeh's 19 year captivity and that of Major Liyi "Jack" Chang whose U-2 was shot down in 1965 is well-told in a new book by General H. Mike Hua. Hua, himself a former U-2 pilot in the joint CIA/ROCAF program, has conducted numerous interviews with his former squadron-mates to get the story of their captivity and of the disgraceful treatment by their own government on Taiwan when the Communists finally released them in 1982.
Surprisingly to me, the Communists, by their standards, did not physically mistreat the two captured U-2 pilots. After 5 years in solitary confinement (although not in a prison environment), both were released to communes for "re-education." But the hard labor and poor rations that they had to endure were the norm for the average peasants in the communes. The cruel and unforgivable action of the Chicoms was the failure to admit that Yeh and Chang were still alive.
The chapters on life in the communes and the effects of the Red Guards and Cultural Revolution on the lives of the Chinese peasants and our grounded aviators are a mini history lesson on the period.
As a result, of their government's declaring the pilots KIA, both their wives eventually remarried and both US and Republic of China intelligence circles as well as their families were amazed when Robin and Jack turned up alive in Hong Kong. Given a very cold shoulder by the ROC government which refused these ROC Air Force officers entry to their homeland and even threatened court martials if they should make it to the island, the two were helped by a network of former ROCAF pilots and former Chinese and American U-2 squadron mates who put them in touch with the CIA which - under no legal obligation - recognized a moral duty to these brave men. There are eventual happy endings including a home-coming to Taipei in 1990 but the lost years can never be regained.
General Hua tells the story of these two lost Black Cats and their families with compassion and - often - in their own words. Among many surprising details: Yeh was shown a recent photo of Chinese and American U-2 squadron personnel relaxing at the Taoyuan hostel during his interrogation; the Chicom money in Jack Chang's survival kit was out-dated and would have given him away even if he had not been wearing his pressure suit.
Taipei, Jan. 24 (CNA) Taiwan's Air Force on Tuesday mourned the death of Hua Hsi-chun, known locally as "Father of the IDF fighter jet," saying he made a significant contribution to the research and development of Taiwan's indigenous defense fighter (IDF). In a statement released on Tuesday, the Air Force Command Headquarters expressed its "deep condolences" over the death of Hua, who passed away earlier that day in central Taiwan's Taichung at the age of 92.
Hua, who graduated from the Republic of China Air Force Academy, was a dedicated fighter jet pilot and U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft pilot in his early years, the Air Force said. He studied in the United States in the 1960s and obtained a Ph.D. from Purdue University's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. After returning to Taiwan, he led the research and development program for the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo, which is named after late President Chiang Ching-kuo and more commonly known as the IDF jet, according to the Air Force.
Hua also served as executive vice president of National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, the No. 1 weapons research and development center in Taiwan. He was also former director of Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation. In 2012, Hua donated NT$15 million (US$478,112) to National Cheng Kung University to help train students in aviation industry related subjects. Last year, he donated more than NT$10 million to establish a foundation to serve as a think tank for the aviation sector. (By Christie Chen and Lu Hsin-hui)
From 1959 to 1971, 30 ROCAF pilots were sent to US to receive training on U-2. Twenty-seven of them completed their training.The United States had invited Taiwanese pilots to train to fly spy planes, nicknamed "Dragon Lady" and "Black Cat," for surveillance over mainland China. President Dwight D. Eisenhower didn't want to put American pilots in the air above the communist country. Major Hsichun Hua, an experienced F-86 Sabre pilot of the Republic of China Air Force, based on the island of Taiwan had been sent to Laughlin Air Force Base, in Texas, as one of a select group of Nationalist Chinese pilots appointed to train on the then super-secret spy plane so they could overfly mainland China. All of them had been arbitrarily given Western handles - Pete, Jack, Charlie, Sonny, Spike, Terry, Mickey, Mike - by their U.S. Air Force instructors. Hua, a retired ROCAF 4-star general who lived in Maryland with an aeronautical engineering doctorate from Purdue, retained Mike as part of his name ever since.
One night in 1959, the residents of Cortez, Colorado though they'd been invaded by Martians when 34 year old Maj. Mike Hua, on just his seventh U-2 training flight, walked into town wearing his space suit. His assignment was to fly from Laughlin to overhead Big Spring, Texas; then northwest to his turnaround point at Ogden, Utah; southwest to Delta, Utah; and finally southeast for the long, lonely slog home. Hua wasn't flying from VOR to VOR as any private pilot of the time could have done with his simple Narco VHF radio, and of course there was no such thing as GPS. He was navigating with the U-2A's built-in sextant, taking star sights like a 19th-century mariner, albeit through a hooded cockpit scope. He was doing this while wearing a pressure suit and helmet, in a cockpit the size of a 1952 VW Bug driver's seat, at night, in an airplane that required remarkably precise speed control. Five knots too fast meant Mach overspeed and possible failure of the fragile airframe, and 5 knots too slow meant a stall upset and equally destructive airframe failure.
At about 10:28 p.m., shortly after reaching Ogden and turning back, the single engine on Hua's aircraft flamed out and the generator quit. With the loss of power at 70,000 feet, he also lost autopilot capability, and his flight suit immediately pressurized, making it more difficult for him to work the controls. He managed to land his top-secert U-2 plane at Cortez, Colorado, where the U-2's landing gear collapsed during rollout because the airplane had lost its hydraulic pump after the engine failure, so the gear extended but lacked the hydraulic pressure to engage the downlocks.
After receiving a Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Air Force for his feat, Hua went on to become a four-star general in the Republic of China Air Force. He earned a master's degree and doctorate in aeronautical engineering at Purdue University and was in charge of Taiwan's aerospace program. Now living in Maryland, he has written or been a source for several articles about the landing. Hua also wrote a book, "Lost Black Cats: The Story of Two Captured U-2 Pilots", about two of his comrades who were captured in mainland China after their spy planes went down.