Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas

 Christmas 2018

The usual Christmas story I have presented on this Blog for the past few years,  were old photographs of where you may have spent you Christmas in Taiwan.

Today, I am forgoing the long story and many photographs.

 We have a new photograph today representing the Christmas Season, sent over by my friend Frank Smith who was assigned to Taipei Air Station.

Frank's duty work station was at Taiwan Motors, the Ford Dealership in Taipei.  They had the US Military Contract to repair all Taipei Air Station Official vehicles.

Frank was in Taiwan from April 1961 to July 1962.

Please look back in this Blog to see the two previous stories which featured Frank's Photos.
and there are many more photos to come - soon.

The photograph below of the US Ambassador's Official Residence, was taken by Frank during Christmas Season 1961.

The US Ambassador to Taiwan at Christmas in 1961 was Everett F. Drumright, from the state of Oklahoma.  

He served as Ambassador to Taiwan from March of 1958 to March of 1962.

Many will ask, "Where was the Official Ambassador's Residence in those days?

It was the same building that had represented the United States in one way or another for many years.  

It is still standing today, alone, on the same grounds.

Today, it's called the "Spot Theater"  The street address for you using Google Earth is, 18 Zhongshan North Road, Section 2, Taipei.

Perhaps you remember the residence, it was just a few doors north,  along the west side of Zhongshan North road from the Rose Marie Restaurant.   

Photo courtesy of Frank Smith circa 1961

The Rose Marie Restaurant (notice sign on upper right of photo) - probably the most visited restaurant by the Foreign Community during the early days of our time in Taiwan.

The photo was taken out the window of a car going south on Zhongshan North Road, stopped on the corner left and right, of Nanking Road, today Nanjing Road.  

So the photo below, was and is today, a few doors off to the right,  back down the road.

Photo Courtesy of Frank Smith

 This was the US Ambassador's Official Residence, Christmas of 1961.

To remind you again, the Rose Marie Restaurant was a few doors down the street to the left of this photo, on the corner of Nanking and Zhongshan.

I resided in Taipei for over 3 years and this sign was not displayed again during my years.

Never did care for the Xmas signage.

MERRY CHRISTMAS to each of you.

Please continue down this page to an Important Story concerning Tainan Air Base.



Monday, December 24, 2018

An Army Engineer Has Departed

It is with much sadness and a broken heart that I prepare this story.

I received word yesterday that my good friend and a fellow US Army soldier, Jim Nelson passed at his home on Friday, 21 December 2018 after a long battle with cancer.

Many of you have probably never heard of Jim, nor have you seen any of his photographs, but today let's look back to the early days of my writings about the US Military in Taiwan and prepare a list stories in which his old photos were presented,

Jim contacted me a short time after I opened the Taipei Air Station dot com site on Double 10 2005.

I don't have his correspondence from that time, but we corresponded back and forth by Email and on the phone.   

We have spoken many times over the phone through the years.

He mailed me many of photographs, most of which I will link to at the end of this post.  

I was very happy to receive his mail and overjoyed to see so many photographs taken on Tainan as the US area was being constructed as well as some on the mountain outside of Tainan, and others off-base around the area of Tainan.

Jim and his fellow Soldier's were assigned to, A Company, 802nd Engineer Aviation Battalion. This battalion was one of many who were attached with the US Air Force. They were called - SCARWAF - Special Category Army Reassigned with Air Force.

If you were ever assigned at Tainan Air Base, you will enjoy looking back to the early days when there was virtually nothing around until the Army Arrived!  

Click on each link below to see more of the early days of Tainan. 

Thank you,

Kent Mathieu
Airman and Soldier
Taipei Air Station Blog and Web Site

Double click on each line below and it will open 

and here, the only photos that I have of Jim......

Jim in fatigues, opening barracks for Reserve Summer Training at Fort Carson Colorado, June 1959.

Jim standing beside his 1957 Studebaker June 1959 at Fort Carson.

 Jim, at the local Harley Shop 2008.

Jim left the Army in July 1959.

Jim left this World in  December 2018, nearly 60 years after being discharged!

He had a long life.

God Bless Jim Nelson!


Monday, December 3, 2018

Up, Up and Away in my Flying Machine

Frank Smith's photographs were presented on two previous stories on this Blog recently.

Frank was assigned to Taipei Air Station but he worked in town at Taiwan Motors, the local Ford dealer and garage that repaired US Air Force vehicles belonging to Taipei Air Station. 

How many of you have thought of flying?  I have.. Unfortunately, most of us just don't follow through...

Frank was the exception.

I spoke with Frank and asked him how he found out about flying lessons in Taipei.. 

I never heard anything about flying lessons, I was there 1965-1968. Perhaps it was a well kept secret or maybe it was closed by the time I arrived.

The # 1 mechanic at the Taiwan Motors garage (where Frank worked) was Mr. Chiang.  During a conversation one day, Mr. Chiang mentioned his friend, Mr. Lee who was an instructor at the Flying Club out at the airport.  Frank was skeptical of flying, but had always kept the idea of flying in the back of his head.

Frank made contact with Mr. Lee, signed-up and soon received his "Flying Club Membership Card. Within the week he was out at "Taipei Airport" to begin flying lessons.

Mr Lee, Flying Club Instructor

 Frank's Flying Club Membership Card

After some schooling time in the basics of flying, safety, equipment and other subjects, it was time to take to the air.

Frank recalled that the "Flying Lessons" were, one hour and cost NT$20.  I told Frank the cost amount did not sound correct, but Frank believed, that was the cost.

Mr. Lee, had been a Nationalist Chinese Air Force Pilot in the Flying Tigers stationed in Burma during WWII. 

One wonders why Mr. Lee only charged a small amount of money to teach flying lessons.

Add to that, the fuel consumed each hour the trainer aircraft was in the air or moving about the airport.  

Perhaps someone will know the circumstances and details of Mr. Lee's position. Was the government involved?  Probably.  And, you know, it may have been something associated with "Special Services" down at HSA....   Anyone know?

This is the aircraft Frank trained in, a PT-17 Stearman, also used by the ROCAF as a trainer.
Thank you Wei-Bin Chang of the Taiwan Air Power Web site for your help with this story on the Stearman aircraft.

Fueled-up and ready to fly!

"Click" for a  Link to more about Stearman Aircraft 

 The rules were, the aircraft would maintain a minimum altitude of 2,000 feet except when taking off or landing. 

Frank said they could fly over Taipei, and he does not recall any Restricted Air Space.

Hanging down from the upper wing was a glass gauge indicating fuel tank levels.

Frank said that there were few gauges in the aircraft, and he was taught that when the struts begin to vibrate, you are approaching "Stall" speed and it's time to immediately give the motor some additional power.

I guess that procedure is most often encountered when on final approach to landing.

Because the aircraft had no radio communications, the pilot would watch the roof of the Control Tower looking for a "Green Light" which indicated that there was no immediate traffic on or approaching the landing runway, and the aircraft could land.

Frank told me a story about the first time he was given the stick to taxi and take off at Taipei Airport.

Frank was moving his aircraft down a taxi way toward the take-off runway.  He and Mr. Lee both saw a green light atop the Control Tower, which indicated that Frank was allowed to enter the runway and take-off.

As Frank approached the one and only runway, which is still the only runway at Taipei Airport, which runs East-West, he is looking over the side of the aircraft to the left and then to the right to make sure his aircraft is centered in the taxi-way.   As he approaches the runway, a speck catches his eye.

He looked back to see what his eye caught and sees a China Airlines aircraft on final approach to land on the runway just in front of Frank's aircraft.

Frank said he was frightened, he hit the brakes, the aircraft lifted-up, the propeller just skimmed the cement, and the aircraft fell backward onto the tail wheel as it came to a stop.

Both men looked back at the Tower, the green light was still on atop the tower!

Frank said he was shaking in his seat, and was too rattled to go farther.  Mr. Lee taxied out to take off.

Sometime after that incident, Frank lost his Log Book.  When you are training for a Pilot license, you have to maintain a Log Book, where everything is written down as you practice and pass check points.  The Log Book is submitted as one of the documents when applying for license.

Frank said he had about 9 hours of training, not an enormous amount, but he "kind of lost interest" in going for his license, after his Log Book disappeared.

Here are some of the photographs Frank took from the Stearman as he flew over the Taipei area.

This photo taken by Mr. Lee

Frank in the front seat, the mirror above to watch the rear seat pilot for instructions, etc.

Frank tells the story of the aircraft's parachute for trainees.

The flying lessons came with a cloth helmet, goggles and a parachute.

Frank said the parachute was old, had a dirty cover, and he was sure that it had not been opened and re-packed for Years.

He told Mr. Lee that the parachute was "Boo-how"

They laughed......

You jumped up onto aircraft wing, stepped-up and got into you seat and sat on your parachute (for additional height) to look over the sides of the cockpit onto the ground to see exactly where you were in relationship to the taxiway sides, you don't want to get into the grass.  You can't see the ground in front of the aircraft.

 The parachute was the old style which hung down off your body.  You've probably noticed those in old films, the pilot walking with a bag hanging down from his backside...

Not sure where this is, close to Taipei, but nothing I recognize.
Frank cruising around, getting his hour of flying in the books.

I've seen this plant a number of times before.  It sits on final approach to Taipei Airport.
Many people take this same photo from their aircraft. You've probably seen a similar one before.

What else is out at Taipei Airport?

Southern Air Transport
Could be here in Taipei for any reason, could even be one of the "Milk Run" or Stars and Stripes delivery aircraft.

Another day, same aircraft back in town.

No dates on either photo, but it was between April 1961 and July 1962.

No markings on this PBY, resting at Taipei Airport, 1961-1962.

This could have been the aircraft Frank flew to Clark on his PCS move to Taipei, he flew in a Pan Am Aircraft.  Don't recognize the service van.

It must be a Boeing 707.

Beautiful day at the Taipei Airport, clear and clean air!

Looks like two or three Lockheed Electra aircraft off to the left here. 

They remind me of Emelia Earhart who flew an Electra on her last flight.

Forgive me if those parked on the tarmac are another type of aircraft. I guessed they were Lockheed Electra aircraft.

Here's a ROCAF C-119, probably in town from the south, most likely Tainan AB,
commonly called the "Mayo Quanchi" flight.

Have you ridden on a white knuckle flight?  Lot's of GI's have over the years.

Back in the early days of MAAG, if you were assigned to the south, it would take many hours to make the railroad ride to Taipei.

So, many folks opted for the Mayo Quanchi flight north and back home. 

Another look at the same aircraft, I suspect on a different day from those above.

I wanted to close with this unusual photograph.

It appears that the aircraft is "probably" out of Barbers Point, Hawaii, carrying the 
Commander-in-Chief, US Naval Forces Pacific and his party including his spouse.

The tarmac is full of Taiwan Naval personnel.  

There is a very large band with their wet instruments.

A Taiwan Color Guard.

Lots of Taiwan Military personnel squatting down for some reason.

On the left, just outside the aircraft, is a group of Naval Officers, I would assume US Officers in their "Whites" standing at attention, probably for the National Anthems of both the US and Taiwan. 

Next to them, closer to the steps, you can see one or two women.  
Women would only accompany their husbands if the trip an official visit of some sort.

Looks like it poured rain out at the Taipei Airport, and maybe even coming-down as the photo was taken.

Typical day in the winter and spring.

Many thanks to John Quinn for his help in identifying what we" think was going on, when the photograph above was taken.

Keep checking our blog, we have many more nice photograph from Frank's assignment in Taipei.   

Including a few "clean and clear" aerial views of Taipei Air Station, in Color.