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Aviatrix Bids to Become First Chinese Woman to Fly Solo Round the World
2016-08-17 16:09:33   Source:www.zgtyfly.com   comment 0
Core tip:Noteverybodygetstofulfiltheirdreams,but31-year-oldChenJingxian,fromasmalltowninSichuanprovince,iswellonthewaytolivinghers-tobethefirstChinesewomantocircumnavigatetheworld.ShespokeexclusivelytoChinaDailyafterherrecentarrivalinParis,accompaniedbyhercrewandanessentialtravelingcompanion,Ebony,astuffedtoycat.Flyinginatinysingle-enginedBeechBonanzaA26,Ch ...

Not everybody gets to fulfil their dreams, but 31-year-old Chen Jingxian, from a small town in Sichuan province, is well on the way to living hers - to be the first Chinese woman to circumnavigate the world.

She spoke exclusively to China Daily after her recent arrival in Paris, accompanied by her crew and an essential traveling companion, Ebony, a stuffed toy cat.

Flying in a tiny single-engined Beech Bonanza A26, Chen left Cleveland, Ohio on August 1, with stops in New York, Boston, Canada, Greenland and Iceland before reaching Paris earlier this month. After Paris she will touch down in Spain, Italy, Greece, Egypt, traversing Saudi Arabia to Dubai, before hopping from India via Thailand to China.

She is still applying for permission to land in China, and after a brief stop in her homeland, she plans to head for Japan and Russia before re-entering the U.S. by way of Alaska.

That's some trip for a girl who'd never been to a big city until she went to university in Beijing at the age of 18.

It was in Beijing that she read the classic flying books such as "Wind, Sand and Stars" and "Night Flight" written by the legendary French pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who also wrote "The Little Prince" fairy tale.

Reading those books, a plan started to emerge.

"His experience made me want to know how to fly, and what is the feeling of flying around the world," Chen said.

She left Beijing in 2011 and headed for New York to study for her Masters degree in law. There, she set about learning to fly, heading each weekend on a bus journey lasting several hours. Whether or not she could fly depend on the area's variable weather.

Chen made it and with 300m flying hours under her belt, starting approaching rental companies in order to get an aircraft. Over 20 rejection letters later Air Z Charter and T&G Flying Club, run by Richard Rohl, invited her to a meeting.

"I was very sceptical about the letter Chen sent me at the beginning," said Rohl. "The reason I replied is although we receive many request letters, hers was the most unique."

Rohl asked Amanda Lincoln, one of the club's student pilots, to meet Chen in New York and check her out. The Chinese lawyer and the New York school teacher immediately hit it off.

"From the first meeting we connected immediately because we share the same love for flying," said Lincoln. "Female pilots are a rare commodity in the world, not only in the U.S. but internationally. She is legitimate, educated and determined.

"Chen is not only a role model to me, she is also setting a good standard for other women to recognise and respect for reaching out and achieving their highest dreams," Lincoln added.

In fact, Lincoln was so impressed by Chen that she's joined her for the trip, taking care of media and administrative tasks.

They are joined by Richard Rohl and his father Larry, founder of the T&G Aviation School and a veteran pilot with 40,000 flying hours amassed over 50 years of piloting. He is the designated safety pilot, which means he will be in charge of checking Chen's fuel and navigation calculations. Richard will be the backup safety pilot, and will take care of instrumentation and technical matters. Chen will be doing the flying but in case of an emergency, Larry and Richard will be on hand.

"Flying round the world is something that many pilots would like to do, my son Richard and I had the same dream that one day we would fly round the world. However, like so many people, when you have a business, you don't have time to chase your dreams. Chen shook us and woke us up to fulfil our dreams," said Larry Rohl.

Chen Wei, from Changsha in Hunan, was the first Chinese to circumnavigate the world, flying a Franco-American designed Socata TBM 700 single-engined turboprop for 25,000 miles through 21 countries, stopping at 39 cities in 2011.

His choice of an aircraft influenced Chen - she and her team opted for a piston-engined plane, built in 1975, although Richard Rohl explained: "The A36 is more difficult to fly than Chen Wei's turboprop, because the A36 is smaller and slower."

Chen Wei met the girl bidding to become the first Chinese woman to fly round the world before she and her team set off.

Said Larry: "Meeting a young lady like Chen, who is very personable and intelligent, and shared this same dream, was wonderful.

"She made me look back at myself when I was her age. It's nice that we can be part of that dream to be the first Chinese lady to fly around the world," he added.

Chen Wei himself has put up a prize of 1 million yuan for the first successful circumnavigation attempt by a woman.

There is another competitor, according to an earlier media report, a professional pilot named Wang Zheng, who has not yet started.

Chen estimates it will take between 45 to 60 days to fly the journey, on a budget of US$10,000. To make ends meet, she has borrowed from family and friends.

Now a corporate lawyer, Chen divides her professional time between New York and Shanghai, and jokingly described herself as a "weekend pilot."

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