Xinhua News Agency

Crash pilot a 'martyr' for saving community

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 May, 2010, 12:00am

A crippled jet fighter was a second from crashing into a densely populated area in Shandong's capital, Jinan, this month before the pilot managed to pull it away and crash into vacant land nearby, mainland media reported yesterday.

People's Liberation Army Air Force pilot Feng Siguang, 28, died in the accident on May 6, but his last-second heroics saved hundreds of lives, Xinhua said. His jet crashed 230 metres from a community of 4,000 people, it said.

Media did not disclose what type of aircraft he was flying, but Xinhua and the Jinan Daily described in detail how the crash occurred.

Such reports are rare on the mainland, where accidents involving the military are normally kept out of the news.

Feng was killed because his parachute did not have enough time to open when he bailed out only 32 metres above the ground, Xinhua said.

The Jinan Daily said the two-seater training fighter Feng and his partner Zhang Deshan were flying shut down during their second training run on May 6 at 9.30am.

The daily said Zhang, a squadron leader in the Jinan air force troop, had reported the engine problem to ground control and that ground commander Shen Shufan ordered them to eject. However, the pair did not bail out, because they realised the fighter was going to crash on a densely populated community.

An investigation found Feng, in the front seat, and Zhang, the backseat instructor, forced the out-of-control fighter to change direction.

Zhang's seat ejected 1.1 second before Feng's, part of the fighter's design, and he parachuted to safety, the daily reported.

'Because of the 1.1-second gap ... Feng sacrificed his life, as the aircraft had fallen to a height of 32 metres above the ground, which was too late for his parachute to open,' Xinhua quoted Feng's troop leader, Zhan Renming , as saying. 'But if Feng and Zhang had hesitated ... it would have spelled disaster for the community.'

The daily said Feng had been hailed a martyr by the Central Military Commission and that his fiancee, Tian Wenjun, a military doctor, had vowed to look after his parents in his stead.