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South African pilot dead in aerobatic plane crash in NW China

A South African pilot was killed after his aerobatic aircraft XA42 plummeted to the ground during a flight show in northwest China's Gansu Province Saturday morning, the event organizer said.

Paul Smith died in the crash at about 10:47am at the 1st Silk Road International General Aviation Convention held at the Danxia airport in the city of Zhangye, the organizer confirmed.

A video clip provided by a spectator showed that the plane lost control while making a dive and crashed into the Gobi desert about 100 meters from the airport runway.

The crash caused no other casualties on the ground.

The US aerobatic flight team that Smith worked for has canceled all flights. Other aerobatic flights went as scheduled on Saturday afternoon.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is under way.

The Danxia airport, the first general aviation airport in Gansu, opened Friday along with the three-day general aviation convention which will last till Sunday.

Zhangye, a popular tourist destination for its unique red gritstone landforms, attracted 15 million tourists and took in 8.7 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) in tourism revenue last year.


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