BEIJING (AP) — China’s navy on Tuesday lavished praise on a flight instructor and his student who were killed in a crash after steering their stricken aircraft clear of populated areas.
A statement on the navy’s official microblog said the two made a “heroic sacrifice” in preventing deaths on the ground in the May 13 incident.
It said Jiang Tao, 27, and his student, Lu Pengfei, 22, were killed when their parachutes failed to engage because of low altitude.
The navy said the accident was caused by an engine fire, leaving them just seconds to steer clear of homes, a business district and a hospital in the northeastern province of Liaoning. The type of plane wasn’t given.
China’s secretive military often delays reporting accidents or keeps them secret entirely in the name of state security.
The navy’s aviation wing has typically been used for coastal patrol work, although it is now practicing on board the country’s sole aircraft carrier and will eventually be used for fleet protection.