After being killed in a flight training accident on Saturday, an elite female Chinese fighter pilot has been proclaimed as a “revolutionary martyr” by China’s air force.
Yu Xu was born in Chongzhou, Sichuan province in 1986. She joined the PLA in 2005 by enrolling in the Air Force Aviation University. After graduation, she made her debut flying over Tiananmen Square in the massive military parade marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. After that, she became a well-known stunt pilot, joining the elite aerobatic team known as the August 1st Air Demonstration Team, and becoming the first female pilot to fly the China-made J-10 fighter.
On Saturday, Yu was piloting a J-10 during routine flight training in Hebei province when her plane collided with another J-10, sending her jet plummeting to the ground. Her co-pilot was able to eject in time, but Yu was too late.
Following her untimely death, Yu was mourned by her country. State news media outlets have posted multiple stories and video commemorating the life of the ill-fated pilot. Meanwhile, she has been praised as hero on Chinese social media. Over the weekend, she became the top trending topic on Weibo with many netizens writing in to say how she had become an inspiration for them.
On Tuesday, the Chinese air force officially designated Yu as a “revolutionary martyr.” Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, spokesperson for the PLA Air Force, said that all air force members deeply mourned her death.
The commemorations seem to mostly glaze over the fact that Chinese fighter jets crash during training alarmingly often. The exact number of crashes is not reported, so they only become public knowledge when a J-10 crashes into a factory or property development.
[Images via Xinhua / NetEase]