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Domestic choppers make aerobatic stunt debut

By Zhao Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-06 01:44

China's first helicopter aerobatic team staged its maiden show on Thursday, wowing thousands of spectators at a helicopter expo.

Five WZ-10 attack helicopters from the Fenglei (wind and thunder) aerobatic team presented a series of stunts at the four-day Second China Helicopter Expo, which opened in Tianjin on Thursday.

Domestic choppers make aerobatic stunt debut

WZ-10 attack helicopters from the Fenglei aerobatic team perform at the Second China Helicopter Expo in Tianjin on Thursday. Fenglei is China's first helicopter aerobatic team, and one of only seven such teams in the world.CHENG GONG / FOR CHINA DAILY More photos

The two-seater helicopters flew in various formations and performed a host of sophisticated aerobatic maneuvers including flying backward and nose-diving.

At the end of the display, four WZ-10s flew in a delta formation before thrusting upward into the air, sparking a wave of hurrahs from the onlookers.

They also used colored smoke trails, a common trick for fix-wing aircraft demonstration teams.

The Fenglei team was founded by the aviation wing of the People's Liberation Army ground force on Aug 25 and is the only helicopter aerobatic team in China, said Sun Delong, who is in charge of the PLA ground force's aviation wing with the General Staff Headquarters.

The team adds to the six professional helicopter teams in the world, including the British Army Air Corps' Blue Eagles, Sarang of the Indian Air Force and the Patrulla Aspa of the Spanish Air Force.

The WZ-10 was developed and produced by Changhe Aircraft Industries Group, a subsidiary of the country's leading aircraft manufacturer, Aviation Industry Corp China. It is the Chinese military's first specialized attack helicopter and made its public debut in November at the Ninth China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as the Zhuhai Air Show.

In addition to the WZ-10, the team is also equipped with WZ-9 and WZ-19 attack helicopters.

"The maneuvers they displayed far exceeded my expectations. It is amazing that those pilots can perform such difficult moves considering the fact that the team was just formed," said Wu Peixin, an editor at Aerospace Knowledge magazine.

"Furthermore, the engine's noise is lower than other helicopters of the PLA, and the hull of the helicopter is smooth," he said. "All these indicate China has made huge strides in the development of military helicopters and turboshaft engines."

Wu said the WZ-10 is able to compete with any advanced helicopter of its kind and its development has left China with an excellent team of designers and technicians.

Members of the team must have more than 2,000 flight hours before they are allowed to join the elite group, Sun said, noting the team commander, Li Kuiyuan, has more than 7,000 flight hours.

"It was a wonderful experience to fly our homemade helicopter to stage a show," Li said after the team's display.

"We are proud that many complicated maneuvers we performed today were designed by ourselves, and a lot of viewers told me they were deeply impressed by our stunts and aircraft."

Liu Hao, a pilot in the team, said only a small number of pilots in the world are able to fly his team's ace maneuvers.


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