Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Brave in the Air: Black Cat Squadron Special Exhibition 「高空的勇者:黑貓中隊特展」

May 1959, as part of a top secret Sino-American joint reconnaissance project, six specially selected elite aviators of the Republic of China Air Force left for Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas to receive flight training of U2, a Lockheed-made very high altitude reconnaissance plane. They were about to unfold a heroic historical chapter of Chinese flyers in the air. In 1961, a special recon unit, designated 35th Squadron, nicknamed “Black Cat Squadron,” was commissioned in Taoyuan Air Base, Taiwan. This unit, with our air force officers flying U-2s supplied by the US and logistically supported by our ground crew, specialized in high altitude reconnaissance of military installations over Mainland China. Before the maturity of satellite technology, U-2 was the only aircraft capable to conduct strategic high air photo-recon mission at that time. Tons of valuable information was acquired including Communist China’s attempt to test their A-bomb; however, the price to pay was also heavy. 35th was one of the few units of ROC armed forces that suffered highest casualty rate during the Cold War period.

In the sixties of the last century, people in Taiwan were leading and enjoying a free and economically prosperous way of life. But, freedom and prosperity never came cheap. It was the sacrifice of these brave men of our air force that our way of life was ensured. We must salute to our fallen heroes and be grateful for their unselfish devotion.

“The Brave in the Air: Black Cat Squadron Special Exhibition” is now being held from 9:00 to 17:00, Monday through Saturday until February 26, at Armed Forces Museum, Taipei.

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