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. 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. 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.