First woman to fly China’s J-10 fighter killed in crash

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THE first woman to fly China’s J-10 fighter plane was killed in a crash dur­ing an aer­o­bat­ics train­ing ex­er­cise, state me­dia re­ported yes­ter­day.

Yu Xu, 30, a mem­ber of the Chi­nese air force’s “Au­gust 1st” aer­o­batic dis­play team, ejected from her air­craft dur­ing a train­ing ex­er­cise in the north­ern province of He­bei, the China Daily news­pa­per said.

She hit the wing of an­other jet and was killed, it said, although her male co-pi­lot ejected safely and sur­vived.

“As one of only four fe­male pi­lots in the coun­try ca­pa­ble of fly­ing do­mes­ti­cally made fighter jets, her death comes as a tremen­dous loss to the Chi­nese air force,” the Global Times news­pa­per said.

Ms Yu, from Chongzhou in the south­west­ern province of Sichuan, joined the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) Air Force in 2005, re­ports said.

She grad­u­ated from train­ing four years later, one of the first 16 Chi­nese women pi­lots qual­i­fied to fly fighter jets, the China Daily said, and in July 2012 was the first woman to fly the J-10. Fans dubbed her the “golden peafowl”, it added.

She rose to be­come a flight squadron leader and ac­cord­ing to the Global Times dreamed of be­com­ing an astro­naut.

Ms Yu was one of two fe­male mem­bers of the Au­gust 1st team – named for the date of the found­ing of the PLA – pic­tured at China’s premier air show in Zhuhai two years ago.

The pair strode to their fighter planes in lock-step with male pi­lots, all wear­ing iden­ti­cal green jump­suits and sun­glasses.

At the time, the China Daily news­pa­per quoted Wang Yan’an, deputy edi­tor of Aerospace Knowl­edge mag­a­zine, as say­ing: “Fe­male pi­lots have learned to fly cut­ting-edge fighter jets in the Chi­nese air force.

“It means the air force has di­ver­si­fied its pi­lot pool and can re­cruit more fe­male pi­lots.”

Ms Yu ap­peared again at this year’s show ear­lier this month, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

The of­fi­cial news agency Xin­hua quoted Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke say­ing all its per­son­nel were “deeply re­gret­ful and sad­dened” at her “un­for­tu­nate death”.

The J-10 is a work­horse of the Chi­nese air force. An es­ti­mated 400 of the jets have been built, most for Chi­nese use, ac­cord­ing to de­fence an­a­lysts IHS Janes.

Janes said re­ports had emerged in De­cem­ber of three crashes in the pre­vi­ous three months.

Two of the fight­ers also con­ducted what the Pen­tagon called an “un­safe” in­ter­cept of a US spy plane over the East China Sea in June. –

Photo: AFP

Yu Xu was only one of four fe­male pi­lots in China ca­pa­ble of fly­ing the J-10 fighter plane.

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