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Pilots gather for freedom to fly in China's forbidden skies


Restrictions ban private aircraft owners from almost all of China’s airspace. But Nuomin He, one of the country’s estimated 2,000 private aircraft owners, is one of the few who grouped together for the Air Nadaam festival in Hexigten, Inner Mongolia – the first event of its kind – seeking leniency for aviation enthusiasts.

Around 20 private planes, microlights and motorised paragliders took to the air in a valley in Hexigten Banner at the weekend after organisers gained special permission from authorities.

“In the countryside, people play mah-jong after finishing work... but I like to fly,” pilot Wang Qiang, 37, said. “We want the government... to give us more room to enjoy the skies, and enjoy flying,” he said. “If ordinary people, even vegetable-cutting housewives, can fly, that would be best.”