PEACHTREE CITY, USA – For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Aventure honors the first Asian American female aviator.
Katherine Sui Fun Cheung was born December 12, 1904 in the Chinese city of Enping. Upon graduating high school, she moved to the United States to study music in California.
Cheung became fascinated with airplanes after visiting Dycer Airport in Los Angeles. After three years studying piano at the University of Southern California, she married and had two daughters by 1931.
Determined to fly, Cheung enrolled in aviation classes and received her pilot’s license in 1932. She continued to study, often with military pilots to learn aerobatics, aircraft structures, international routing, navigation and other skills which would improve her versatility as a pilot.
She began performing at fairs and air shows along the California Coast. In 1935 she joined the Ninety Nines club for women pilots, an association founded by Amelia Earhart. In 1936, Cheung became a U.S. citizen.
During World War II, she became a flight instructor. After the war, she purchased and operated a flower shop until her retirement. Cheung died at age 98 on September 2, 2003, and was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.
Cheung has been recognized by the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and aviation museums in China. She is honored at Los Angeles’ Flight Path Walk of Fame, and her Chinese hometown of Enping has two statues built in her honor.