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Yang Xianyi: Aim high to reach the heaven

Born in Hawaii, Yang Xianyi (Sen Yet Young) shared Sun Yat-sen's passion for studying to save the country.


▲Yang Xianyi (Source: Zhongshan Plus)

In 1909, Yang Xianyi, who was still a college student in the United States, accepted Sun Yat-sen's idea of "Save the Nation through Aviation" and chose to major in aviation. In 1914, Sun Yat-sen founded an aviation school in Japan, where many outstanding aviation pioneers were trained, including Yang Xianyi, the "father of the Chinese revolutionary air force". In 1919, ordered by Dr. Sun, Yang Xianyi organized China's first fleet of aircraft in Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, and served as the commander-in-chief. In February 1923, Dr. Sun established the Marshal's Office in Guangzhou and appointed Yang Xianyi as the director of aviation. After taking office, Yang actively organized the Guangdong Aircraft Manufacturing Factory and became its director, and he led the aviation and aircraft manufacturing. In July of the same year, Yang Xianyi led the design of the first aircraft designed and manufactured by Chinese, the Rosamonde, which was also China's first light reconnaissance aircraft with a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour, and Soong Ching-ling participated in the test flight. In recognition of Yang Xianyi's outstanding achievements, Dr. Sun Yat-sen wrote a banner "Aim High to Reach the Heaven" to him.


▲A model of the Rosamondeaircraft is now placed in Beitai Village. (Source: Nanqu Fabu)

In September 1923, warlord Chen Jiongming started a rebellion in Huizhou. Sun Yat-sen sent an army to suppress the rebellion, and Yang Xianyi also took part in the battle. At the front line of Baishadui in Meihu, Boluo County, Yang Xianyi suggested attacking by water. When checking the navy mines, Yang Xianyi was killed by suddenly exploded naval mines. His body was buried in the east of Huanghuagang, Guangzhou, with a handwritten inscription by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, "Tomb of Mr. Yang Xianyi". A model airplane was placed on the archway of the tomb. After Yang Xianyi's death, his wife Cheng Duchun returned to China with their three young children and sold the trousseau for the preparation of the Xianyi School, and she became the first principal. Yang Xianyi's son, Yang Tian'ai, donated the private land left by his ancestors to Xianyi Middle School as a permanent fund, and donated the inscription "Aim High to Reach the Heaven" written by Dr. Sun Yat-sen to the country.


▲"Aim High to Reach the Heaven" written by Dr. Sun Yat-sen. (Source:

The words "Aim High to Reach the Heaven" are now engraved on a plaque at the entrance of the Beitai Village, South District. Yang's family does not have a residence in Beitai, but only the ancestral home of Yang Xianyi's father, Yang Zhukun. Villagers hang a sign on the fence saying "Yang Xianyi's Ancestral Residence" (杨仙逸祖居) as a reminder.


▲Yang Xianyi's ancestral residence.

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