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At the end of World War II, young American pilot Felix Smith had to chose between returning home to a steady airline job in Wisconsin and remaining in Asia. However, life in the Midwest could not compete with the excitement and seductive mystique of flying in the Orient. He stayed overseas for almost three decades.
Smith became one of the first pilots of Civil Air Transport, or CAT, the China-based airline co-founded by Claire Chennault, the famed leader of the Flying Tigers. Ferrying troops and equipment for the Nationalists during China's civil war, CAT was also a lifeline that provided medicine and supplies to China's suffering masses during these difficult years. Later CAT flew under CIA contract during the French war in Indochina, the Korean War, American's secret war in Laos, and the Vietnam War. A true aviation pioneer, Felix Smith was in the cockpit from the beginning and saw it all.
With an appreciation of the eccentric and an eye for the exotic, Smith brings to life the colorful, courageous people who kept CAT aloft despite its reputation as the world's most shot-at airline. Foremost was the indomitable Chennault, whom Smith knew well. Then there were the rugged pilots, such as the legendary James Earthquake Magoon McGovern, killed flying supplies to the besieged French forces at Dien Bien Phu, and many others who risked their lives for freedom.