For Chinese air force pilots, flying the nation’s most advanced stealth fighter jet, the J-20, is a dream. This was the case with Captain Yu Xu, one of China’s first female fighter jet pilots.
However, this will never happen. The pilot, 30, died in an accident on Saturday, Nov 12, 2016, during flight training in Hebei province.
Her death inspired the nation. By late Sunday, nearly 60 million Sina Weibo users had read the news and many paid their respects. “Yu Xu is our most proud female pilot. Her death is a great loss for our country,” wrote one poster.
Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, spokesman for the PLA Air Force, said all air force members deeply mourned Yu’s death, while the air force will continue to faithfully fulfill its mission.
Born in 1986, Yu joined the People’s Liberation Army Air Force in September 2005 as a student at the PLA Air Force Aviation University. Graduating in 2009, she became one of the first 16 Chinese women qualified fighter pilots.
Yu joined the National Day Parade on Oct 1, 2009, as she piloted a JL-8 trainer jet above Tian’anmen Square. In July 2012, as the first of four women certified to fly the third-generation J-10, she operated the single-engine multi-role jet and is considered the first Chinese domestic fighter to rival Western fighters in its capabilities.
“I’m quite happy with myself, because this solo fight means that I have become a real fighter pilot,” she told CCTV.
She had become a flight squadron commander, and fans gave her the nickname Golden Peafowl.