China's 1st female fighter pilot killed in crash
Beijing, Nov 14: One of China's first female fighter pilots and a member of the country's air force aerobatics team was killed in a training accident over the weekend, according to Chinese state-run media.
Captain Yu Xu, 30, died on Saturday during a routine training flight with the aerobatics team, CNN cited the reports as saying.
The Chinese military did not provide details of the accident in Hebei province, but state-run media, citing military sources and witnesses said Yu ejected from her aircraft after it collided with another during the training.
After the ejection, the wing of another plane hit Yu which left her dead, the report said.
Yu's male co-pilot ejected safely and survived, the report said. The other jet also landed safety.
The flight data recorder, or black box, from Yu's jet was recovered as authorities investigate the accident.
Yu was the first of four women who are certified to fly the J-10, a single-engine multi-role jet that entered service in 2004 and is considered the first Chinese domestic fighter to rival Western fighters in its capabilities.
Yu flew a J-10 fighter with China's August 1st Aerobatics Team. Her last performance was at Airshow China in Zhuhai earlier this month.
J-10 fighters from China's August 1st aerobatics team performed at Airshow China in Zhuhai on November 4. The show was Yu Xu's last public performance.
"I think the acrobatics are quite difficult, with high requirements and standards made in all aspects. Our condition is quite satisfactory, but we need more training if we want to be better," Yu had said of her performances.
"I'm quite happy with myself, because this solo flight means that I have become a real fighter pilot," she said.
Wan Ying, a friend of Yu's, told CNN that Yu was "a very positive, humble and nice person who loved taking care of friends".
Yu's death on Saturday saw many in China questioning in online forums whether women should be fighter pilots and if they were getting the right training.
"I only want to know the cause of the incident. What should be to blame for, problems with the plane or lack of training," one poster wrote on the Chinese social website Weibo.
Chinese aviation expert Wang Ya'nan said Yu and other women in the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force were trail blazers.
"China is a pioneer in training female aerobatic pilots. When the programme started, there was no foreign experience to borrow from or statistics to rely on from other countries. From this perspective, Yu Xu and other female aerobatic pilots have taken greater risks, which deserve more of our respect," Wang said.