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The Man Behind the Helmet - China Eastern

Updated: June 02, 2021

It is such an unremarkable vintage pilot's helmet that you may not give a second glance, but its owner is truly a legend who gave birth to China's aviation industry.

Lin Yushui, a seasoned fighter pilot, made his name as a brave upriser 72 years ago.

In 1949, he and another 55 pilots flew a dozen of aircraft back to the Chinese mainland from  Nationalists-controlled Hong Kong, sounding a clarion call for uprising of two Chinese airlines.

In the wee hours of Nov 9, 1949, a total of 12 planes took to the sky under the cover of darkness. They first flew on set course toward southwest of China to avoid raising suspicion before turning north for their real destination Beijing and Tianjin.

When Lin thread his way out to the Central China, he found he was encountered by four Nationalist interceptors. Intrepid as Lin was, he had no choice but to hide into the clouds since what he flew was an aviation aircraft.

Finally, a controller voice sounded in the cockpit telling him that he had entered a safe area out of the Nationalists' control. The signal was broadcast every 15 seconds, leading the aircraft to follow the right route.

After eight grueling hours, the 12 aircraft touched down at Beijing and Tianjin Airports. 

It's from this humble beginning that a new age of China's civil aviation industry began.

Lin later taught hundreds of pilots, contributing to the country's pilot resources.

China currently has more than 4,000 civil aviation aircraft and a rich pilot resources.

(Executive editor: Wang Ruoting)