It's not every day that a plane pulls up to the pump at a gas station.
But that's what passersby in Beichuan, a small town in north Sichuan notable only as the epicenter of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, saw. Baffled locals report that in the morning they watched as a small plane landed on Liaoning Dadao and turned into a roadside gas station to refuel.
While he filled his tank, the pilot and his Chinese company's chairman affably posed for pictures. They then drove the plane back to the road for takeoff. According to company chairman Chen Wei, his foreign pilot, identified as "Andy," experienced a fuel shortage three minutes into a test flight and decided that Liaoning Dadao was a sufficiently barren landing spot.
However, gas station attendant Ma Rui claims to have spoken with the pilot several days earlier. Ma told reporters that the pilot had driven by the gas station and inquired about different gasoline types, casting suspicion on the supposed spontaneity of the landing.
Zhang Wei, an official from Mianyang Sci-tech City, told Chinese media that the aircraft was a modified STOL CH750-like prototype produced by a Chinese joint venture with George Heintz Aircraft in anticipation of the opening of China's air traffic to small planes owned and piloted by private citizens.
Chinese netizens immediately buzzed with complaints, pointing out the illegalities of the plane landing on a road. The violation of (air) traffic rules has prompted an official investigation, leading some to cry out, Jia you!