Tribute to PLANAF Pilot killed in 1st J-15 fatal Incident


Jeff Head

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Tribute to PLANAF Pilot, Zhang Chao, killed in first J-15 Fatal Incident

This tribute thread is to the young pilot, Zhang Chao, who gave his life for the PRC while learning to operate their J-15 Flying Shark off of the deck of the Chinese 1st aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, CV-16.

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As anyone who has operated on or near aircraft carriers can tell you, they are among the most dangerous places to work on earth. Especially on the flight deck, and especially if you are a pilot.

The United States Navy has been operating aircraft carriers since the USS Langley, CV-1, which was commissioned in 1913, over 103 years ago. Since that time, as personnel learned to land progressively more modern aircraft carriers on deck, and learned how to stop them, and to launch them, there have been mishaps.

During world War II, the aircraft carrier replaced the battleship a the principle naval combatant on the high seas, and the vessel capable of delivering the strongest offensive punch to any adversary. The United States and the Empire of Japan fought a very serious and deadly war throughout the Pacific where the Japanese lost a total of twenty aircraft carriers, and the United states lost a total of eleven.

Now, the Chinese are entering the aircraft carrier business.

They purchased the incomplete Varyag. the second Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier built by the soviet Union which was left in the Ukraine when the soviet Union fell. Neither the Ukrainian's or the Russians at the time had the funds to finish her, so she was sold to China.

Over a ten year period the Chinese studied her and then rebuilt and commissioned her as the Liaoning, CV-16.

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She is a STOBAR carrier, which stands for Short Take-Off, Barrier Assisted recovery. This means she has no catapults to launch her aircraft, they take-off over the bow part of the deck which looks like a ski-jump to get the aircraft into the air. They then land and use arresting wires that an arresting hook on the tail of the aircraft catches and stops the aircraft while on deck.

it is a very dangerous undertaking, but the Chinese have been learning quickly with their own, Chinese built J-15 aircraft which are an improved Chinese version of the SU-33 aircraft the Russians use on the Kuznetsov.

They have been practicing and qualifying pilots to land and take-off, and then progressively to fly formations, deliver ordinance, defend the carrier, and the other flight operations necessary for aircraft carrier operations.

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Jeff Head

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Not long ago, one of their pilots, Zhang Chao, was killed while flying a J-15. He was the first Naval Aviator from an aircraft carrier in a J-15 to be killed in China. The following pictures come from the video which is in Chinese:


Zhang Chao was destined to fly, and he started out in the military with the desire to do so, and became a pilot, first of some of the older Chinese aircraft:

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Jeff Head

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Once in the program, Zhang Chao began learning to fly the Flying Shark and worked at the on-land facility, learning to take off on the land based ski jump and land on the carrier shaped landing field there. Once he passed through that land based qualification, he was approved to get trained on the carrier itself.

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Jeff Head

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As he became qualified to operate off of the carrier, he continued to stay qualified in all of his flight routines, gaining more and more hours on the J-15.

Apparently, during one of these flights, Zhang Chao experienced a failure. It is said that he stayed with the aircraft longer than he should have in order to avoid the aircraft crashing into areas where people might get injured or killed. Zhang Chao's aircraft continued to malfunctioned and he ejected:

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Jeff Head

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Unfortunately, during ejection, Zhang Chaowas severally injured and died.

His family, friends and the Chinese mourned the loss of this brave young man who loved flying and gave his life to flying for his nation as one of the pioneers of the new Chinese Naval Aviation.

Solemn ceremonies were held as Zhang Chao was laid to rest and given a hero's send off:

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As we get more details, we will post them here.

Also feel free to post your condolences and sympathy for this young man and his family.

Particularly for those of you who have naval experience, and especially on aircraft carriers, feel free to share your experiences and advise regarding the dangers and how to stay safe.
 
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Jeff Head

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If anyone who knows Chinese can look at the video in the second post and find this young man's name out, please let me know so we can edit the thread and include his name.

Thanks!
 

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