DONALD C. REECE (19??-1987)
(CNAC October 1, 1948 - December 31, 1948)
(Captain - ???)
April 2, 2003
I received the following message from Robin Kline, daughter of CNAC pilot Don Reece.
I've been browsing around the CNAC web site for quite some time. My father, Donald C. Reece, was with CNAC for a short period of time in 1948 (October 1 thru December, 1948). He left China in December, 1948 when he accepted a job as captain for P.O.A.S. out of Bangkok, Thailand. I'm always looking for familiar names at CNAC and finally found one, actually two. That is Al Belski, who was killed on March 11, 1951 in a P.O.A.S. plane crash in Hong Kong. Apparently my parents were friends with the American crew on that flight: John Cory, pilot, Al Belski, Engineer, and H.L. (Monty) Gittins.
In a letter dated March 24, 1951, my mother (in Bangkok) writes to my grandmother (in the US). To summarize:
"You probably read about the POAS crash in Hong Kong two weeks ago. As long as we have been connected with flying this is the first time I've ever lost friends I knew well in a plane accident. It was a great tragedy, and the first accident POAS has ever had. The plane was the new Skymaster they bought last December. Don had just brought it in from Tokyo, another pilot got on to bring it down to Bangkok...........One of those killed was Monty Gittins, the navigator. Peggy Gittins had left Hong Kong for Los Angeles just the day before, but didn't hear about the accident until she got home. She has two boys - Larry, four years old, and a baby, four month old. She may call you sometime - she has your telephone number. John Cory, the Pilot was not married. The other American in the crew was Al Belski, the engineer. His wife had just moved to Bangkok from Hong Kong about two weeks previously, and they also have two children".
My father was notified shortly after the accident and went to the crash site to assist in identifying the crew, including stewardess, Suzy Wong. I learned from my older sister that after the crash in Hong Kong, Mrs. Belski stayed with our family in Bangkok before returning to the US
In a letter dated May 7, 1951, my mother writes to a friend in the US.
"POAS had a bad accident about six weeks ago in Hong Kong...............Don had just brought the plane in from Tokyo and gotten off in Hong Kong, and another captain, with the rest of crew unchanged, were to bring it down to Bangkok, and it crashed about five minutes after take-off in foggy weather. Don went to the scene of the crash right away, and had to help with identification, etc., and it was a pretty gruesome business. He still hasn't stopped thinking about it and talks about it in his sleep."
I did find one other name listed under CNAC pilots on the web site. That is Quinn Sowell. My father mentions his name in several letters to the US from China. He also mentions a couple of other names that are not included in your listings and I'm quite sure they were also with CNAC. Munn Hinds and Kirk Hills--their families were also in China.
My father's Pilot License # T-15418 (he got his license in Los Angeles, California in 1930).
Robin (Reece) Kline
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