Aviation pioneer Chen Lianxue sits on top of his home in a Gansu village fiddling with an airplane of his very own design. The wings are 4.2 meters in length, the body is 10.5 meters long and 1.6 meters tall, it’s a rustic steely color with a red star emblazoned on the tail, and it doesn’t actually fly.
50-year-old Chen has worked most of his life as an electrician. He says he can’t stand how crowded everywhere has become. Northwestern China has just as many cars as the rest of the country, but a less developed transit system, he complains. However, he looks up and sees the incredible vastness of the sky and thinks, “If villager had planes, wouldn’t life be grand?”
While he was forced to drop out of school after middle school, Chen has always been fascinated by flight and did extensive reading online, in books and in periodicals before withdrawing his life savings of 28,000 yuan and using it to buy an engine, aluminum, rivets, rubber tires and various other doodads to make his dream. Following two years of painstaking research and design, it has finally taken shape… sorta.
“I flew it before, but it didn’t go very well,” Chen says. “Now, I’m going to make the wings 8.5 meters long and 1.4 meters thick, also the tail design needs to be improved. Probably by next year I will test it again. If that test is successful, then my airplane won’t only be used for travel, I’ll also use it to spray fields with pesticides and fertilizers and to help put out wildfires, anything I can do to serve the people.”
While his intent is certainly noble, and his design possibly adequate, it seems that what Chen is really lacking is money. Earlier this year, we saw a Changchun man build an airplane in memory of father for 100,000 yuan, and it actually flies. If Chen can get some friends together to make an investment he could also get in on the DIY dirigible business that is really starting to take off in China. All he needs is 300,000 yuan.
[Images via Tencent]