China: Around The Nation

Air Force None: former Chinese premier’s executive aircraft lies abandoned in farm field

British-made Trident airliner once carried Premier Zhou Enlai around China and the world

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 April, 2017, 7:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 3:23pm

An airliner once used by Chinese leaders now only carries birds’ nests where it lies rusting in farm field, a local news website reports.

With its engines missing, paint work peeling off and animals making their homes in its fuselage, the derelict plane symbolises the declining interest in former communist leaders among the Chinese public, reports

The British-made Trident, a medium-range passenger jet built in the 1960s, once transported some of China’s most prominent leaders, including former premier Zhou Enlai, Chairman Mao Zedong’s right hand man during the Cultural Revolution.

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Because Mao preferred to travel by train, the Trident with the registration 50050 was arguably used as China’s “Air Force One” before the 1980s, carrying the premier around China and overseas, according to earlier media reports.

In 2003, a businessman in Anhui province bought the long-retired plane from the Chinese government. The plan was to turn the plane into a museum, featuring photographs and documents of Zhou’s domestic and diplomatic achievements.

But the plan did not get off the ground. The aircraft was relocated from one place to another over the years, and now sits on blocks in a field at Xiaohan, a small village outside Hefei city.

On one of the concrete blocks is sprayed the telephone number of a local moving company with a crane service.

About 100 Tridents were manufactured, with a third of them sold to Chinese civilian airlines and The People’s Liberation air force.