China: Retired man 'flies home-made planes'

Gyrocopter made by Jin Shaozhi from China

A retired doctor in eastern China's Zhejiang Province has been building home-made planes and flying them as a hobby, it seems.

Jin Shaozhi, 71, says he has been building model planes since he was a teenager and it's been his dream to learn how to fly. He's assembled and flown both fixed-wing planes and aircraft with rotating blades, the Want China Times website reports. "To a fan of model airplanes, the biggest dream is to actually fly a plane in the sky," he says adding that he received flight training eight years ago before building his first aircraft out of a mini-plane he bought in 2010.

His latest creation is the White Swan - a helicopter-like vehicle called a gyroplane. "Most of the parts are from hardware stores except for the engine, which is a second-hand item purchased from overseas," Jin says. Apparently, White Swan can reach a height of 1,000m (3,300ft) in theory, but Jin says he stays at 500m for safety reasons, the China Daily newspaper says.

As the authorities often ban private pilots from flying, Jin has to find remote places - such as newly paved roads not open to the public - to practice. It's not without its dangers: During one test flight, Jin had an accident and was called in by the aviation authorities for questioning. He then broke his leg in another crash-landing.

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