Flying high once more

Updated: 2013-12-26 09:39

By Peng Yining (China Daily)

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Shen says his flight suit was wet from sweat after his first night flight mission after the surgery.

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"It was like driving the Formula One with your eyes covered, except we were going faster, much faster," he says.

Shen says the more missions he completed, the more confident he became. "I don't just want to be a pilot who beat a tumor. I want to be a better pilot. Better than before I had the surgery," he says.

At an airport in Shandong province's Yantai city, Shen recently climbed into his gray fighter for a morning drill.

As the engine roared, the ground started to tremble. After the ground crew evacuated to the safe area, the roaring grew louder. While Shen was taxiing out, the blast was overwhelming.

"Once I experienced flying the fighter, I got addicted," Shen says. "There is nothing like this."

Born to a farming family in Hebe province's Wuqiang county, Shen says he helped his father to harvest the wheat and corn in busy seasons before he was recruited by a pilot school at the age of 18.

During the back-breaking work in the field, Shen says he sometimes took a break, and would lie on the ground, with husks and dirt all over his body, looking at the clear blue sky over northern China.

For a country boy who had a healthy body and perfect eyesight joining the military was a good opportunity to leave his backwater hometown.

Shen took a two-month break at home after the operation. The national medal winner's mission then included cooking for his family dropping his 13-year-old daughter off at school and picking her up in the afternoon.

He says most of time he didn't know what to do.

"I could hear the roar of fighter when they flew over my home," he says. "Every time I heard the high sharp sound of our fighters, my heart felt like it was stabbed by a knife. I thought, 'I have to go back'.

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