Friday, June 5, 2015

Love is a Many-Splendored Thing - William Holden (1955) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon

Most of the visits we have made to Kai Tak courtesy of the various films I've posted about here (and almost every one - with a few exceptions - has a scene at Kai Tak) have been of the post 1958 variety. This means that most of our films show planes taking off and landing along the famous runway that jutted out into Kowloon Bay.

However, in this film we see the airport in its former incarnation (and location) as a rather more modest development on the shores of the bay in the San Po Kong area. It wasn't until a few years later that the airport was shifted south with the building of the new (more familiar) runway and the whole of the area you see on these screen grabs below became an industrial area filled with factories (trivia: it was in one of the factories in San Po Kong that an industrial dispute led to the outbreak of the leftist riots in 1967).

The east of HK Island in the far background
Looking northeast - perhaps with a seaplane in the background?

The next pictures are a sequence where we see Suyin's plane land, supposedly, in Chung King but actually we are just seeing another angle of Kai Tak with Diamond Hill area in the background.

It looks to me as though it may say HAEC on that hangar rooftop. HAEC was the previous name for HAECO.

Later on in the film, Suyin goes to meet Mark Elliot at the airport when he returns from Singapore we get to see the very distinctive eastern slope of Kowloon Peak in the background (and I guess the hill on the right of the top shot was what became Anderson Road Quarry?).

And a final parting shot of Suyin with the iconic Lion Rock behind her as she looks through the fencing.


  1. You knew I'd be here to comment on this one. :) Not much I can say about the airport itself, other than to second HAEC (HAECO). This is all 18 years before I was even born, and really another world to me.

    The planes, though, I can research:

    * The first screenshot shows B-842, an American-made Curtiss C-46D Commando that, at the time, was operated by Civil Air Transport. The plane was transferred to CAT right around the time that the faltering Nationalist Chinese airline was taken over by none other than the CIA. Some aircraft in CAT's fleet operated scheduled passenger services as a cover, while others were used for covert missions. I'm guessing B-842 was predominantly a passenger plane, but the document below has a photo of her being used to drop rice over Taiyuan. She was sold to Robert Hewitt Associates and then to Delta just a couple of years after the film came out, then later to Trans Arctic Air and finally to Transportes Aéreos San Martin. She was damaged beyond repair on May 6th, 1984 after an uncontrollable fire in her number one engine followed by a ground loop when returning to land at San Borja airport in Bolivia.

    * The Pan American Airlines plane in the ninth screenshot is N6535C, also known as Clipper Mercury. A Douglas DC-6B, she was delivered to PAA in October 1952, and sold nine years later to Transportes Aereos de India Portuguesa. (Portuguese India being what we'd now call Goa.) Just six months later and shortly before India annexed Goa, she was transferred to the Portuguese Air Force. In 1976, she was briefly loaned to SATA Air Açores in the Azores, and the following year the Portuguese Air Force sold her to Aero B Venezuela. She was still on their books as of 1980, but at some point was stored in the Azores. Her last sighting was in 1996, and she's believed to have since been scrapped.

    And yes, that's definitely a seaplane in the background of the second shot. Shame she's too far away to make out much detail -- it's beyond me to even identify the type, let alone the specific plane. ;)

    1. I always have you in mind when I post Kai Tak related stuff ;-)
      Interesting histories here so many thanks. I guess the seaplane was one of the HK<->Macau ones that used to fly. It's a big shame they don't have them anymore because HK and Macau are ideal for a quick shuttle and both airports are right next to are big stretch of open water. I went on one in the Madives about 10 years ago and it was great - but noisy - fun.