04-11-2007, 11:37 PM #1
"Birdman" in hospital after test flight
BEIJING (Reuters) - A self-taught Chinese amateur pilot, dubbed the "birdman" by Chinese media, has landed in a hospital with a broken chin and leg after taking his homemade airplane for a test flight, Chinese media reported on Wednesday.
Li Xianfeng, 30, hovered about 150 feet above the ground for two minutes with his microlight-style aircraft, then plowed into fields on the outskirts of Beijing Monday, the Xinhua news agency said.
Li, who taught himself about aviation by reading books, declared his flight "partly successful," according to the report, which said he would stay in the hospital for at least a month.
"Luckily the engine was not damaged and I will continue flying until I can make a perfect landing," Li was quoted as saying.
The shattered aircraft, aluminum-framed and 21 feet long with a wingspan of 30 feet, cost Li 30,000 yuan ($3,883), the report said, adding he had spent all his spare time and money on making airplane models and later real ones.
"I want a perfect landing in my own self-made plane," Li was quoted as saying, adding he was willing to risk his life to achieve his life-long dream.
Private pilots in China must apply to aviation authorities for permission to fly, but the report said many amateurs like Li fly without permission in sparsely populated rural areas.
Sunday, a private aircraft crashed into a rural courtyard in the eastern province of Shandong, killing the amateur pilot, according to Chinese media.
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