Friday, September 2, 2011

Art Lym (Lin Fuyuan 林福元) 1890-1962 - First Chinese Aviator

Art Lym

Garden Mausoleum

Art Lym, was a pilot who trained under the Wright brothers* and helped pioneer aviation in China. According to the July 15, 1913 issue of the Washington Post, he was China’s first aviator. He later headed the Chinese Air Force.

Lym was born in San Francisco on December 27, 1890. After the 1906 earthquake he moved to across the Bay to Oakland with his sister and her husband. He began his career in the newspaper business, writing and managing the Chinese World (Sai Gai Yat Po) newspaper.

In 1913 Lym was sent to the Curtiss Aviation School in San Diego financed by wealthy Chinatown benefactors. He earned his license with the Aero Club of America becoming one of the first two Chinese-Americans to obtain a license. Concern for his own safety led Lym to install a Sperry gyroscope stabilizer, which the U.S. Navy subsequently adopted.

Lym accepted a commission from Chinese President Yuan Shu-kai and set off to China. He became the director of the Pukou Flight School where he gave demonstrations in bomb-dropping and air scouting. Lin’s appointment was due as much to his political affiliations with the Baohuanghui as it did with his skill as a pilot. Lym would later go on to become director of the Aviation Board of the Ministry of War.

With his childhood friend Tom Gunn he organized the Canton Air Corps and launched an aerial assault on bandit strongholds on Hainan Island, recapturing the area for Guangdong. In 1920 he led the first ever aerial bombing raid on the City of Canton, targeting the Kwangsi invaders.

* Needs secondary attribution

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