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China: Around The Nation

Chinese farmer makes a business out of his fleet of homemade helicopters

Xu Bin, who dropped out of school years ago to focus on his hobby of building helicopters, is selling aerial photos and footage as well as his own aircraft

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 1:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 3:47pm

Chinese people’s interest in making their own aircraft has made a comeback in the news after a farmer was recently featured for building more than 10 of his own helicopters and making a business out of them.

Xu Bin, from the city of Jiangshan in Zhejiang province, is now venturing into selling his homemade helicopters, after years of making money taking and selling aerial photos and videos while on flights on his aircraft, according to Chinese media outlet Pear Video.

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Xu, 43, builds his own aircraft from a workshop near his home in Xiakou county.

He first developed an interest in helicopters and started building them himself at the age of 20, according to Jiangshan Information Network.

“My dream is to make autogyros to allow all aviation lovers to fly,” said Xu, who dropped out of high school to focus on building the aircraft. An autogyro is a type of aircraft that uses a free-spinning rotor propellor.

In 2006, after spending almost 11 years researching the building process and constantly upgrading his designs, Xu finally succeeded in creating a helicopter that could take off and land properly.

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The 130kg helicopter, which cost 30,000 yuan (US$) to build, flew about 25 minutes at the height of 2,000 metres.

In the following years, he went on to build several more autogyros. His 10th helicopter, completed in 2013, can take a load of up to 200kg, fly steadily above 500 metres and navigate for 1½ hours on a full tank, according to the Jiangshan Information Network report.

During this time, he began to capitalise on his creations by taking commercial aerial photos and videos while on his flights, aviation website Ethcy.com reported.

The Pear Video report said Xu was now selling his homemade aircraft, but gave no further details.

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“China boasts such a vast territory and huge population … there are a lot of aviation amateurs. If every one of us can fully develop our own innovations and designs, we can further promote our work as aeronauts together,” said Xu told BBC earlier this year.

He also told Ethcy.com that he planned to build a museum where people could experience flying.

Xu is not the only one who has devoted so much of his time and money into building his own aircraft.

In January last year, Chinese media reported about a farmer in southeastern Jiangxi province who spent three years and 200,000 yuan building his own helicopter.

However, the 650kg aircraft failed to fly, China National Radio reported.

In October the same year, another Chinese farmer in northwestern Gansu province was reported to have spent a year and 20,000 yuan making his own plane.

But the man could not give it a test flight as he had never learnt to fly a plane, according to China News Service.