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March 2, 2011

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Online tributes to student pilots in crash

FRIENDS are mourning the deaths of two Shanghai student pilots killed when their aircraft crashed in the United States.

Shen Daiwei, a sophomore of the Shanghai University of Engineering Science, and Hu Jian, a 23-year-old student at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, were training at TransPac Aviation Academy, in the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix, Arizona.

They took off last Friday evening local time but crashed in mountains 31 kilometers away. Their overseas instructors also died.

An investigation is under way and the two young men's Chinese friends are mourning them on the Internet.

"I hope this is just a nightmare," Gu Dandan, Hu's girlfriend wrote in her blog on, one of China's leading social network service sites.

"Do you really not exist anymore? I can't believe how something like this could happen to you," she wrote.

The two had been due to return home this summer.

Their aircraft was reported missing about 8pm on Friday, according to United States media reports. Authorities say the plane took off from Deer Valley Airport at 7pm and headed to a practice area 48km away.

Detectives say the plane crashed about 31km northeast of the airport in mountainous terrain in the Seven Springs area. The wreckage was located on Saturday morning and the bodies removed that afternoon.

Last year at the same flying school, a Chinese woman student pilot died when her aircraft crashed into a field.

Due to limited flight training in China, many Chinese pilots train overseas after several years of domestic study.


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