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Drones

Chinese flying saucer builder enters legal twilight zone after building UFO-inspired drone

  • Aviation authorities step in after drone maker’s sci fi-inspired creation makes its maiden flight
PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 December, 2018, 3:52pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 December, 2018, 10:36pm

A Chinese drone enthusiast who built his own flying saucer has been brought back to Earth with a bump because the authorities warned him he did not have the proper permission to fly it.

Shu Mansheng spent around two months and 150,000 yuan (US$21,800) building the aircraft, which was powered by four gas turbojet engines, the Wuhan Evening Post reported last week.

He told the newspaper the 80kg (175lb) aircraft could carry a human pilot but he decided it would be safer to use remote controls for its test flight on December 2 when it hovered eight metres above the ground for well over a minute.

It was not the first time the appliance repair shop owner from Wuhan, Hubei province, has built and flown his own aircraft, but this particular design was inspired by his love of sci-fi and UFO movies.

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The local aviation authorities were not amused, however, and warned Shu that he had not registered the flying saucer with the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Under Chinese law, all aircraft need a licence to fly and the authorities need to be told in advance when and where flights will take place.

The local branch of the aviation authorities warned Shu that they were keeping an eye on his behaviour and told the newspaper that they were worried some of his home-made aircraft could be dangerous.

Shu, a self-taught technician, started building aircraft in 2006 and has devoted himself to the hobby ever since.

The farmer-turned-technician dropped out of high school but made a fortune by building up a portfolio of businesses – including car and home appliance repair shops as well as restaurants – in Wuhan.

He built his first aircraft, a small fixed-wing aeroplane, in 2010 but broke his leg when it crashed a minute or so after take-off due to pilot error.

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Undeterred, he has continued to build and fly aircraft, and told Beijing Youth Daily that he had made around two dozen since then.

“The most dangerous flight was when the plane suddenly flipped on its back after it took off,” Shu said. “Luckily I was strapped in and wasn’t injured.”

It remains to be seen whether the flying saucer will take to the skies again.