The year was 1941. The United States had not yet been a direct player in World War II, at least not officially. A small group of American pilots and aircraft ground support equipment crew members were secretly hired by the Chinese Air Force to help ward off defeat at the hands of Japan. These American patriots believed fiercely in their cause and demonstrated passion for their country through their roles in the air and on the ground. A handful of the ones who came home after the war went off to create Mercury GSE.
A Bold Plan
China had suffered many losses at the hands of the Japanese, who by late 1940 had seized vast tracts of land and numerous Chinese seaports. The Chinese appealed to the U.S. for help. President Roosevelt authorized a politically sensitive and secret plan. One hundred active military pilots and another 200 personnel, dedicated to aviation ground support equipment and related duties, voluntarily resigned their American commissions in order to volunteer and fight for China.
American soldiers had spent weeks crossing the ocean and several more in training in Burma, but before they were officially launched into combat, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. At once, the American Volunteer Pilots, and the United States of America, were fully at war. Just days after the attack, in 1942, these American pilots in Chinese uniform engaged in their first combat action of the assignment. It was wildly successful. Media reports soon referred to “Chinese” pilots that “flew like tigers”, and from then on the group became known as The Flying Tigers.
Business After the War
Former Flying Tigers personnel went on to found Mercury GSE in 1948, bringing all the knowledge and experience from their wartime adventures to the intricate business of airport ground support equipment at LAX. They dedicated themselves to the business of refueling and servicing aircrafts, and between 1960 and 1988, Mercury was the largest aircraft GSE firm on the west coast of the United States.
Mercury GSE Today
At Mercury GSE, we know airport ground support equipment. Our lease and rental division, based close to LAX in California, provides equipment for rent and lease to aviation industry clients around the world. We handle parts from aircraft GSE manufacturers and specialize in larger pieces of equipment, from aircraft tow tractors, to air starters, and loaders. We refurbish equipment to near new condition, and also provide appraisal and valuations for airlines as well as banks and financial institutions.