Long Qiming seems like any ordinary elderly man who passes the time by drinking tea, chatting with his friends and watching television. But not every 82-year-old has as colourful a background as his - Mr Long is the last surviving Chinese pilot of the legendary Flying Tigers and has told his story in the lead-up to the 60th anniversary of the defeat of the Japanese invasion. Few people knew he was a Flying Tiger pilot during the second world war until his former American team members came to the mainland in 2003. The Flying Tigers earned their formidable war reputation by ferrying fuel, weapons and other military supplies from India to China, often in treacherous weather across the Himalayas. Officially known as the American Volunteer Group, the squad was mobilised by Claire Lee Chennault, an American veteran who was invited to China in 1941 by the Kuomintang government. The squad consisted of 100 pilots and 200 aircrew from the US and half a dozen Chinese. At his home in Chongqing, he says: 'Actually, I don't want to recall the past. My 30 years of factory life has helped me to forget the scars caused by the war.' Mr Long came from a rich family in Hong Kong. His father - an employee of the British colonial government, chairman of the Chinese Civil Servants Association and a justice of the peace - taught him a lot about the mainland. 'He always wore a traditional Chinese jacket and a long gown, and had a strong affection for China,' Xinhua quoted Mr Long as saying. But his studies were interrupted when the Japanese invaded in 1941. He left for Guangxi in 1942 and became a pilot the next year. 'My parents died during the Japanese bombing of Hong Kong in 1944. I was outraged. I wished I could have been flying a bomber instead of a transport aircraft.' Mr Long flew 2,100 hours during 13 months of service. 'It took us six hours for a return flight. We often encountered Japanese resistance. My plane once took 14 hits and I only narrowly escaped.' From 1941 to September 1945, the Flying Tigers shot down 2,600 Japanese aircraft, destroyed 44 warships and killed 66,700 Japanese soldiers. More than 2,000 US and Chinese planes were used in the sorties. 'The American Flying Tigers became our brothers. They helped save many civilians from being bombed,' he says. 'They shared the same hatred towards the Japanese intruders, and their hatred grew especially after Pearl Harbour ... Each time we downed a Japanese plane, American pilots would cheer like children.' Mr Long was discharged in 1952 and worked as a technician, porter and English teacher. In the Cultural Revolution, he was accused of being a 'secret agent' because of his Hong Kong background. Mr Long has since tried to live a quiet life, but that will change in August when his Flying Tiger colleagues return to commemorate the 60th anniversary.