Project: Located in North Carolina. Serves as a flagship plane.
Early in 2012, AWA received an amazing donation in the form of an airplane. However, this is not just any ordinary airplane. It is a 1961 Piper Comanche that holds a special place in American history.
In 1964, a Japanese American by the name of Henry Ohye specially equipped his plane with extra tanks and made the first successful trans-Pacific flight from the U.S. to Japan in a single engine aircraft.
Henry Ohye was a U.S born American citizen who fell in love with flight at the age of nine. He saved his pennies and took flight lessons, earning his private pilot’s license in 1931, and in 1933 he became the first Nisei to ever receive a commercial transport pilot’s license. It is interesting to note that his pilot’s license was actually signed by Orville Wright.
In 1941, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Ohye
attempted to enlist in the Army Air Force Corp, but was declined due to his race. Instead, he was sent to an American “relocation” camp in Arizona, where he developed programs to teach boys how to build model airplanes.
In spite of what many would feel as unfair treatment, he remained a loyal U.S. citizen, and when tensions again arose between the U.S. and Japan in the 1960’s, he planned this “goodwill” mission to Japan in an attempt to reconcile the countries and maintain peace.
The ’63 Comanche, christened the Toku-Hana in honor of Ohye’s parents, took off from Los Angeles in July of 1964. After stopping along the route in Oakland, Honolulu, Midway, Wake, Guam and Okinawa, the flight ended successfully in Tokyo where Ohye delivered his letters of good
will from sister cities in the U.S. and helped to maintain peace and friendship between the two countries.
Ohye planned and executed his mission of good will, not because he was looking for self gratification or men’s applause, or even for monetary gain. His motivation was simply to bring about reconciliation and friendship between two countries that had been ripped apart by war and distrust. He made this perilous journey out of love for his fellow men, and donated his time, energy, and resources to help make the world a better place for others.
Now that the Toku-Hana has become a part of the AWA fleet of planes, it is once again doing the work that it was originally commissioned to do. Its purpose has been to serve humanity in works of good will and reconciliation. As a Flagship plane it will help to promote AWA in our endeavor to raise awareness of the need for donations to assist in providing more planes and missionaries.