Chinese boy offered pilot lessons after late night joyride

A crashed plane at an airport in Huzhou Image copyright Jiangsu TV
Image caption The 13-year-old crashed one plane into a nearby guardrail

A Chinese teenager has been handed a hefty fine after he broke into an airport and took two planes for a late-night joyride.

But he has also been offered a rare opportunity to learn how to fly.

Jiangsu TV said an unnamed 13-year-old boy managed to sneak into his local airport in the city of Huzhou, in the Zhejiang Province of eastern China, during the early hours of 15 June.

Surveillance cameras showed him piloting an amphibious aircraft worth 1,880,000 yuan ($273,000; £219,000), and crashing it into a nearby guardrail.

He was then shown hopping into another aircraft and taxiing it round in circles before abandoning the plane and leaving the airfield.

'Impossible'

Police say that the boy is unharmed, but added that he caused damage worth 8,000 yuan ($1,162; £932).

The airport has reached an agreement with the family for him to pay 2,000 yuan, as they are too poor to afford the full fine.

The Global Times newspaper says that police found the boy doing his homework when they came to fine him, and they gave him a strict verbal warning.

But the airport has been fairly sympathetic. Its director says they will step up security, but has also offered to train the boy as a pilot.

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Staff were incredulous as to how the boy could have mastered the controls of the aircraft without any piloting experience, saying that he had only been watching the plane being repaired a day earlier.

The airport's director told Pear Video that the boy must be very clever, as "it is impossible to learn by observation alone".

'Take the right path'

The incident has generated significant interest on social media.

Some on the popular Sina Weibo microblog have been critical of the airport's poor security and the child's parenting.

But others are praising the response of the airport for both reducing his fine and offering him flying lessons.

"I can only say that this child is very smart and very lucky," one user says, receiving 1,000 likes. "I hope that this kid can take the right path."

Reporting by Kerry Allen

Image copyright Jiangsu TV
Image caption The boy was caught on surveillance footage removing planes from their hangars

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