The Consul General at Shanghai (Cunningham) to the Secretary of State

No. 10115

Sir: It was in 1932 that Colonel Jouett and some eleven associates were employed by the Chinese Government to organize the school at Hangchow which is now known as the Central Aviation School. They arrived here during the summer of that year under a three years contract, which expired this month. I have the honor to advise that Colonel Jouett’s contract was not renewed, he insisting that he must return to private business, and he sailed from Shanghai on the seventh, eventually to return to America. Some of the American members of the school have severed their relations with the school voluntarily or otherwise and there remain but eight of those previously employed by Colonel Jouett. General Chou Chih-jou, in command of the aviation school, has received authorization to renew the contracts of such Americans as he thinks for the best interest of the school and to employ others to fill the vacancies up to the number of eight and, if he considers it desirable, to employ someone directly from the United States to take the position which Colonel Jouett formerly occupied as head of the foreign group of teachers. There was considerable doubt in the minds of the American members of the corps as to whether their contracts would be renewed and it was therefore a great relief and gratification that the Chinese commander of the school received authority from the Generalissimo, Chiang Kai-shek, to fill the vacancies that would occur upon the expiration of the contracts with Americans.

The school has been a distinct success under the direction of Colonel Jouett. There have been insubordination at times and public airings of the differences of opinion that have existed among the members of the staff from time to time, but nevertheless the school must be regarded as having been successful thereby adding to American prestige—because it has provided a school for training in aviation which [Page 225]is a credit to its instructors and moreover has the approval of the Chinese authorities. A high Chinese official recently remarked that “the school is very excellent”. From an American commercial standpoint the training of aviators in accordance with recognized American methods of instruction must necessarily benefit our trade because the aviators will be predisposed to use the machines that their instruction has peculiarly qualified them to use.

During the time that Colonel Jouett has been the head of the instructors there have been graduated about three hundred and thirty-five cadets. In September 1932, approximately fifty Chinese qualified aviators were confirmed by Colonel Jouett and his associates. In addition the December class of 1933 graduated fifty, the June class of 1934 sixty-five, the December class of 1934 sixty-four, and the class of June 1935, fifty-six. There are ninety-eight cadets in training in the fifth class to be graduated in December of this year, and in the sixth class to be graduated in June of next year one hundred and sixty. Of course some of these will be unable to complete the course but it is not beyond expectation that seventy-five per cent of the fifth class and sixty per cent of the sixth class may succeed in qualifying as aviators.

On graduation day there is always an aerial demonstration. In December 1934 there were seventy-one planes in the air in complete formation in review, while on the first of June of this year there were seventy-five planes in review. In December the Generalissimo personally attended the graduation exercises. Graduation day is a very important event and is always observed in some striking manner and is attended by many high officials.

Among the civilities that were exchanged just prior to Colonel Jouett’s departure was the presentation to him by the National Government of a medal of the Order of the Commander of the Jade. On May twenty-fifth the school presented to the corps of American instructors a magnificent incense burner, and the American corps of teachers presented to the school a silver loving cup. On the eve of Colonel Jouett’s departure he was the guest of honor of Dr. H. H. Kung, Minister of Finance, at dinner.

It is considered that the foregoing details may be of interest to the Department, particularly in view of many rumors that possibly have reached the Department regarding the unpopularity of the American instructors with the Chinese and their failure to cooperate and coordinate their efforts. I am of the opinion that American aviation in China today is upon a more solid foundation than it has been for the last eighteen months and that the Italians, who have had the unquestionable support of their government, have diminished in popularity.

Respectfully yours,

Edwin S. Cunningham