‘Wei Around the
SOMETIMES DREAMS DO COME TRUE. Just
ask Wei Chen.
Wei dreamed of becoming a pilot as a high
school student in China. But he wasn’t chosen
for military training, and he gave up that
dream. More than 20 years later, however,
that dream of flight was revived when Wei,
now living in the United States, was offered a
ride in a friend’s plane in 2006.
“As soon as we landed, I knew I wanted to
be a pilot,” he said.
Wei started flight training, earning his
private pilot certificate in November 2007. In
2008, he added his instrument rating. And in
2009, he decided to become the first Chinese
citizen to fly around the world in a single-engine airplane. He also became the first GA
pilot given permission to fly across China.
On May 22, after about 18 months of
planning and research, he took off from
Memphis, Tennessee, in his Socata TBM 700
with about 450 hours in his logbook.
He returned to Memphis on July 29,
Wei’s route took him from Memphis to Washington, D.C., to New York,
Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus,
United Arab Emirates, Oman, India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, China, Russia,
Alaska, Canada, California, and Wisconsin.
Wei, president of Sunshine Enterprise Inc., a construction material company
in Memphis, said while the trip has been relatively smooth, there have been a
few bumps along the way. The day before he departed, for instance, a volcano in
Iceland erupted, closing airports and airspace in Greenland and Iceland, two of his
Along the route, he was greeted by soldiers holding guns, confusion whether
he would really get clearance to land in China, and some transition problems
between handlers that left him wondering where and when he would land.
His trip is also raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He
hopes to raise $250,000, and had raised $125,000 at an event before he left.
Wei Chen, first Chinese citizen to fly around
the world in a single-engine plane.
CHRIS HEINTZ HONORED AT
ON WEDNESDAY, JULY 27, AT AirVenture 2011, aircraft
designer Chris Heintz was greeted by nearly 250
attendees who gathered together for a dinner in his
honor. Hosted by Sebastien Heintz, Chris’ son and
president of Zenith Aircraft Company of Mexico,
Missouri, and Charlie Becker, director of EAA
Member Programs, attendees came from as far away
as Venezuela and South Africa.
In Chris’ 40 years of designing aircraft, he has
created nearly 25 different designs, both homebuilt
and certified. Chris has been coming to the annual
EAA convention for 34 years, and in the early days
he would stay with Steve Wittman in his home. He’s
passed along his legacy to his five sons who we’re
certain will continue to bring Chris’ designs to market
for many years to follow.
James Wiebe, EAA 859932,
founder of Belite Aircraft,
received the August Raspet
Memorial Award during the
Homebuilders Dinner at
AirVenture 2011. The award,
named after the late Dr. August
“Gus” Raspet, has been given
annually since 1960 to a person
who has made an outstanding contribution to the
advancement of light aircraft design.
Sandy Marsh, EAA 274927,
chairwoman of the Activities
Center, celebrated 35 years of
volunteering at EAA AirVenture
Oshkosh 2011 and was
recognized with the Dorothy
Hilbert Volunteer Award. The
award recognizes a female
EAA volunteer who exhibits
the same passion, dedication, and devotion for
volunteerism as did the late Dorothy Hilbert.
Roy Beisswenger, EAA 537928,
host of the Powered Sport
Flying Radio Show and editor
of its monthly magazine,
received the Bax Seat Trophy.
Established by Flying Magazine,
the award is given annually to
a journalist who communicates
the excitement and romance of