Women pi­o­neer­srs

Five train­ing to be first t fe­male fe­male com­bat he­li­copter pi­lot­sots

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Five women are train­ing to be the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army’s first fe­male com­bat he­li­copter pi­lots, the PLA has an­nounced.

Yun Lu, Pu Yut­ing, Zhou Jiao, Wang Wen­juan and Liao-huang Xiaochuan all flew fixed-wing air­craft for the PLA Air Force be­fore they were se­lected for train­ing by the PLA Army avi­a­tion unit in 2014.

The five have com­pleted many train­ing cour­ses and will soon be com­bat-ready, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease from the PLA.

The women have over­come many dif­fi­cul­ties, such as hav­ing to for­get old op­er­a­tional prac­tices for fixed-wing planes, and have done ex­er­cises to build their phys­i­cal strength, it said.

Pic­tures from the PLA show the fe­male fliers train­ing in a WZ-9, a mil­i­tary vari­a­tion of the French Euro­copter Dauphin, and a WZ-10, the coun­try’s first do­mes­ti­cally de­vel­oped at­tack he­li­copter.

Among the five women, Yun has the most re­mark­able record. She is one of the first Chi­nese women ca­pa­ble of op­er­at­ing a fighter jet and has flown mul­ti­ple types of fixed­wing planes, in­clud­ing the JL-8 trainer and J-7 fighter jet.

She trained with Yu Xu, a fe­male mem­ber of the PLA Air Force’s Au­gust 1st Air Demon­stra­tion Team, who died on Satur­day dur­ing flight train­ing and has be­come a na­tional hero. Both women, to­gether with 14 other fe­male high school grad­u­ates from across the coun­try, were en­rolled at the PLA Air Force Avi­a­tion Univer­sity in Septem­ber 2005.

The PLA Air Force has not dis­closed how many fe­male avi­a­tors it has fly­ing trans­port he­li­copters.

How­ever, about 10 fe­male he­li­copter pi­lots re­port­edly work for po­lice forces and gen­eral avi­a­tion com­pa­nies.

Western de­fense ob­servers spec­u­late that the PLA-Army’s avi­a­tion unit has about 1,000 he­li­copters, in­clud­ing nearly 100 WZ-10s.

In the United States, women are a sig­nif­i­cant force in the mil­i­tary’s he­li­copter fleet. In 2014, around 10 per­cent of US Army he­li­copter pi­lots were women, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased by the US Army that year.

There are many fe­male avi­a­tors in the US Army who have op­er­ated the world’s most pow­er­ful at­tack he­li­copter, the Boe­ing AH-64 Apache, US me­dia have re­ported.

CHEN KAI/ FOR CHINA DAILY

Four of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army’s first five fe­male com­bat he­li­copter pi­lots re­view ma­neu­vers dur­ing train­ing in Oc­to­ber 2014.

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