The 2023 Changchun Air Show kicks off in Changchun, Jilin province on Wednesday. (Photo by Tian Jiaxin/For chinadaily.com.cn)
Breathtaking displays expected to draw 700,000 visitors to 5-day aviation show
Stunning maneuvers by a fleet of People's Liberation Army Air Force aircraft at the 2023 Air Force Open-House Activity and Changchun Air Show left tens of thousands of visitors enthralled on Wednesday in Changchun, capital of Jilin province.
Several J-20 stealth fighters, J-16 multirole strike planes and YY-20A aerial refueling aircraft carried out solo and group displays on Wednesday, the first day of the air show, which ends on Sunday. They performed a host of challenging, sophisticated maneuvers in the presence of at least 100,000 spectators, including local residents and aviation fans who have poured into the northeastern city for the event. Entry to the event is free, but advance registration is required.
Each time the planes conducted a breathtaking maneuver, the crowd cheered and applauded, the din competing with the sound of camera shutters clicking furiously. The event is being held at the PLA Air Force Aviation University in Changchun.
This is the first time that the J-20, J-16 and YY-20A, all top hardware in the Air Force, are appearing for flight performances at the same time.
It is also the first time that four J-20 jets are taking part in flight maneuvers simultaneously in an air show. Previously, four J-20s have flown together during another major air show in China, but while two carried out maneuvers, the other two only did a flyover.
Another major attraction on the first day of the air show was the aerial combat maneuvers by the J-10S and J-11S twin-seat fighter jets. Spectators braved the scorching sun for hours to witness the pilots' dogfight performance.
The Air Force has sent its aerobatic teams to perform stunts during the event. Also on Wednesday, its paratroopers showed off their skills to visitors.
Wang Longyu, a primary school student from Beijing who was attending the air show with his parents, said the J-20 stealth fighters impressed him the most.
"The J-20s have China's most advanced aircraft engine and missiles. This aircraft is making our motherland stronger.
"I had seen the J-20 in movies and on television, but I had never seen the real thing till today. Seeing it makes me more interested in becoming an aircraft designer or pilot," he said.
His mother, who wished to be identified by her surname Xie, said she and her husband brought their son to Changchun to help him experience the power of China's advanced aircraft fleet and the latest achievements of the Air Force firsthand.
"Thanks to our son we have now become aviation fans. He loves reading about aircraft and weapons. This is the first time we have brought him to an air show. I hope this tour will help to enhance his patriotic sentiment, because this will enable him to personally see the accomplishment of our Air Force and the aviation industry," Xie said.
Chen Shuaiyu, another primary school student from Beijing, said he too was attending an air show for the first time. "Our Air Force aviators gave outstanding performances and also showed us how capable the planes are. The J-20 is much stronger than other fighter jets," he said. "I will show my teachers and classmates the videos I have recorded when I return to school."
A mother in Changchun who wanted to be identified by her surname of Zhang said she took her daughter, a primary school student, to the event to help her know more about the Air Force. "My girl told me she is very proud of the country and the Air Force after seeing the air show," she said.
This is the third time that the Air Force is hosting the air show in Changchun. The first was held in October 2019 and the second in August 2022.
During the five-day event, the first massive air show in China this year, at least 700,000 visitors are expected to show up, according to Ma Yanfeng, executive vice-mayor of Changchun. Ma said his city is well prepared to welcome guests to the event and has arranged a number of aviation-related activities for residents and tourists.