The first-ever Chinese citizen to fly a private plane around the world stopped in Xi’an, capital of the northwestern Shaanxi Province Monday and received a warm welcome.
Chen Wei, a Chinese citizen living in the United States, landed at Neifu Airport, a general aviation airport at an industrial base in Yanliang in the suburbs of Xi’an Monday morning.
“I wish to share the joy and inspiration of the flight with my countrymen,” Chen told the crowd who welcomed him at the airport.
Chen, born in Changsha, capital of the central Hunan Province in 1971, is founder and chief executive of Memphis-based Sunshine Enterprise, an importer of Chinese scaffolding and hoists.
His dream for a round-the-world flight began two years ago, spurred by the facts that more than 100 individuals from 28 countries had taken the challenge but none was Chinese.
He spent over 1 million U.S. dollars on a French made Socata TBM-700 single engine turboprop and applied for visas and official clearance for the flight from every country and region along the route.
Chen’s flight began in Memphis on May 22 and will cover more than 40 cities in 21 countries and regions. The planned 40,000 km voyage will take about 10 weeks.
Before he arrived in Xi’an, Chen landed in his hometown. He will also stop in Beijing and Harbin.
Chen will leave China on July 17 to continue his global tour.
He said he hopes the flight would also help promote China’s fledgling general aviation industry, so more Chinese citizens will be able to fly their private jets.
The Chinese government has decided to promote the general aviation industry and improve airspace management and efficiency in the coming five years.
The announcement, made during the annual parliamentary session in March, is taken by many as a sign for the further opening of China’s low-altitude airspace, which is controlled by the Air Force and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
Private flights need approval each time they take off, and filing for approval can take a day or even a week, which hampers demand for private jets.
The Yanliang national aviation hi-tech industrial base in Xi’an is among the first in China to open the low-altitude airspace to private jets to promote general aviation.