Sen Yet Young

Sen Yet Young (Chinese: 楊仙逸; pinyin: Yáng Xiānyì; Wade–Giles: Yang Hsien-i; 1891–1923), also known as Young Sen Yat,[1] was a Chinese aviation pioneer born in the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Sen Yet Young
Traditional Chinese楊仙逸
Simplified Chinese杨仙逸


Young was born in the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1891. His father, Young Ahin (Yang Zhukun), emigrated to Hawaii (1872 at age 19) from today's Chinese county of Zhongshan where Dr. Sun Yat-sen came from. Young Ahin’s hometown village of Buck Toy (Bei Tai 北臺) was close to the Sun family village of Cui Heng; they spoke the same Zhongshan dialect, were good friends, business partners and could plan secrets of Chinese revolution activities from Hawaii.[2]

Young Ahin became a citizen of the kingdom of Hawaii and prospered. He spoke Hawaiian and some English, started as a vegetable gardener, then rice planting, ownership of rice plantations, rice mills, shipping rice and merchandise, and owning commercial and residential real estate and chicken, duck and fish farms. He became a self-made Hawaiian-American millionaire.[3]

Sun Yat-sen sought funds from and often stayed at the home of Young Ahin. He and his youngest son were staunch supporters of Sun’s revolutionary efforts for the overthrow of the Manchu Qing Dynasty and later unification of China from its warring factions. Sen Yet Young was given the first name, in reverse order, of Sun Yat-sen.

At the young age of 11, Sen Yet Young pledged to support the cause of a democratic, unified China. At 18, he became a member of the revolutionary party founded by Dr. Sun, the Tongmenghui, while Young Ahin served as the treasurer of the Tongmenghui Chapter in Honolulu and later also Treasurer of The National Fundraising Bureau of China.

Sen Yet Young assisted in unifying China by heeding Dr. Sun's call to "save China through aviation". He enrolled in the Curtiss Aviation School in Buffalo, New York and soloed as a pilot on October 2, 1916.[4] Sen Yet Young became the first Hawaiian American to be licensed, with sea plane and land plane ratings, receiving the Aero Club of America certificates 600 and 62 respectively. He won second place in marksmanship from an airplane and stayed months longer studying aviation engineering.[5]

Young was named head of the Chinese Aviation Bureau and is credited with producing the first flourishing of aviation experts in Guangdong. He spearheaded the first Chinese factory to manufacture airplanes, and commanded the design and building of the famed Rosamonde, named after Sun's wife, Soong Ching-ling.

On the 20th day of September 1923, Young died from a torpedo explosion at the age of 31. Sun announced the establishment of a National Aviation Day on the day of his death and urged a school to be started in his name. Young is memorialized at the Chinese Martyrs Cemetery Park Huanghuagang 黄花岗公园; Sun Yat Sen called Young "The Father of Chinese Aviation."


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