He had never received any flight training, but that did not stop
Li Xianfeng from building his own aircraft and flying it into the
Unfortunately, gravity had other plans for China's leading
From his hospital bed, Li recently recalled the feeling of
hovering 50 meters above the ground before his microlight-style
aircraft ploughed into a field north of Beijing on Monday. The
flight lasted two minutes.
The 30-year-old would-be pilot will remain in hospital for at
least a month, nursing a broken right leg and cut up chin. But his
optimism is intact - he considers the flight partly successful.
"Luckily the engine wasn't damaged. I'll continue flying until I
can make a perfect landing," said Li.
The remains of the shattered plane will be taken from the field
in Tongzhou District, a popular spot for private pilots, back to
his home in the city, where he designed and built it and its two
Much to his wife's consternation, Li spent 30,000 yuan (about
US$3,800) on the aluminum-framed aircraft. It measures 6.5 meters
long, has a wingspan of 9.2 meters and is powered by a special
Li's previous two efforts - the first made of wood, the second
of iron - failed to get off the ground.
The amateur pilot's friends described the flight as a success, but
Li still sees room for improvement. Sun Wenjun, who helped Li build
the aircraft, said there was nothing wrong with their machine.
"The only problem is that Li has no flying experience," Sun
(Xinhua News Agency April 12, 2007)