The first lady to fly China’s J-10 fighter plane was killed in a crash amid an aerobatics training exercise, state-run media reported Monday. 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 at the weekend, the China Daily newspaper said.
She hit the wing of another jet and was killed, it said, in spite of the fact that her male co-pilot ejected out securely 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.
Yu Xu, from Chongzhou in the southwestern territory 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 initial 16 Chinese ladies pilots fit 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 end up a flight squadron pioneer and as per the Global Times dreamed of becoming an astronaut.
Yu Xu was one of two female individuals from the August first team — named for the date of the establishing of the PLA — pictured at China’s premier air show in Zhuhai two years back.
The pair walked to their military aircraft in bolt venture with male pilots, all wearing identical green jumpsuits and shades.
At the time the China daily paper cited 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.”
The official news agency Xinhua quoted Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke saying all its personnel were “deeply regretful and mournful” 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.