China’s Rich Try to Fly Around Red Tape

The New York Times reports on a new fad among China’s super rich: illegal helicopters:

Mr. Guan and his friends are black fliers — part of a minuscule group of wealthy Chinese who fly, quite literally, in the face of the law. The first Chinese rich enough to own their own aircraft, they have collided in midair with the Chinese military, which controls the country’s air space and never contemplated such a fantastic development, much less authorized it. Just asking for permission to take off can involve days of bureaucratic gauntlet-running, and still end in rejection.

Getting permission to land can be another hassle altogether.

So black fliers take to the air clandestinely, flitting where the authorities are unlikely to notice or care, occasionally causing havoc on the ground below, risking fines that would send an average Chinese to the poorhouse but which, for most of them, do not have much of a deterrent effect.

“It’s like this — your family, your wife, won’t let you go out and pick up girls. But you went out and did it anyway,” Mr. Guan said. “Secret flying is like secret love. You do it, you don’t tell people about it.”

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