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Huaxi once again aims sky-high with own helicopter

By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)

08:21, August 07, 2012

A helicopter sits on the parking apron at the airport of Huaxi village, in Jiangsu province. (China Daily/ Li Gen)

China's richest village has flown to new heights by offering free helicopter rides for residents to overlook the "No 1 village in China" from the air.

Huaxi, in Jiangyin of East China's Jiangsu province, has gained approval from the Civil Aviation Administration to launch and operate Jiangsu Huaxi General Aviation, the country's first village-owned general aviation company.

That means the company can engage in a number of businesses, including commercial flights for sightseeing, emergency relief, pilot training, sky advertising and meteorological sounding.

It's part of the village's efforts to boost tourism. The village currently welcomes about 2 million visitors every year.

The village held a grand ceremony in Huaxi on July 26 for the foundation of the company, which has an initial investment of 100 million yuan ($15.7 million).

But before the village starts the commercial operation of the two helicopters bought from McDonnell Douglas and Eurocopter, residents have the chance to take a free ride.

Since last year, more than 2,000 Huaxi residents have enjoyed the unique experience of flying no higher than 300 meters to gain a bird's-eye view of their hometown.

"Villagers are very excited and eager to sign up for the trial ride," Zhao Zhilong, deputy Party secretary of Huaxi, said on Monday. "They only need to reserve one day ahead, and all residents in the village are entitled to one free ride. It's part of the service that the village offers to its residents."

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