A lot of joy to be gained from flying private planes

Updated: 2013-09-06 08:38

By Zhang Changyi (China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Editor's note: Zhang Chang-yi, 56, has more than 26 years of flying experience. In the late 1980s, he started a flying club that is believed to be the first private aviation organization in China. He now operates an aviation company in northern Beijing's Changping district.

Flying with non-powered aircraft, such as gliding parachutes and hang-gliders, is very different from taking a ride on a passenger plane.

Although they are both methods of flying, the experiences are as different as heaven and earth.

While traveling in a civil aircraft, I am just a passenger, not the captain.

But when I was flying my private aircraft in order to do photography over the Gobi Desert in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region with a group that included five other men in July, I became the key person, and I was in awe by the scenery.

Looking down from my aircraft, which can fly much closer to the ground than passenger planes, I saw animals, including donkeys and wild boars, running around the desert, which was not as bleak as I had previously imagined.

Yes, it was a feeling of taking in everything at a glance, which is why I am always passionate about flying at low altitudes.

In 1987, when I was working in a publishing company, I had the idea of establishing a flying club with my friend, and two years later the dream came true. Later, I became a flying instructor and made many friends in the industry.

My favorite thing is to fly non-powered aircraft because they require more piloting skills and there are greater challenges to face. I have to think about how to prolong the flying time while keeping safe.

Although getting flying permits from air traffic control departments in China now is not easy, it is still worthwhile putting time and energy into this business.

My company now has about 30 aircraft, bought from Western countries and used for private flights, and I hope the industry will grow in China.

The planes my company buys cost at least 200,000 yuan ($32,680), similar to a medium-priced car, and people must get a pilot's license before they can use them.

I think the joy to be gained from aviation is far greater than the dangers that some people are concerned about.

Perhaps it is man's natural instinct: daring to seek adventure and longing for freedom.

Zhang Changyi was talking to reporter Cao Yin.