A special educational mission from China spent the better part of a day touring Miami Executive Airport on May 13. The visitors were eager to learn how private airports work with private business and attract public interest.
Wings Over Miami Air Museum hosted the Beijing-based tour group that singled out the Kendall airport as part of an educational mission to learn about American general aviation airports, related businesses and their function in a community.
“China has not previously offered the same opportunity to its people as you have in this country to experience general aviation,” explained Francis Chao, managing sirector of Uniworld LLC. “New orders are coming from the Chinese government which will open doors for entrepreneurs such as these businessmen.”
After a meeting with airport officials, the group of 15 toured Signature Aviation and a nearby flight academy before stopping at the Wings Museum for a tour led by Vincent Tirado, a member of the museum’s board of directors. Tirado and his son, an airline pilot, restored a WWII North American AT6D trainer that resides in the Wings hangar.
The luncheon, hosted by Chao, featured a “Hundred Dollar Hamburger” with fried onion rings, the burger name derived from pilots who joke about flying for a day trip that includes the cost of a lunch plus gas. Burgers were from Keg South.
Tirado, an experienced aircraft restorer, found many members of the touring group showed a special interest in ongoing restorations at Wings, as well as procedures to export planes as China develops general aviation bases.
Traveling with Chao was mission team leader Qingpeng Yuan, vice-chair of the China Association for the Promotion of Private Sci-Tech Enterprises and president of the Beijing Chinese Merchants Institute for Management Science.
The tour was scheduled to visit several other U.S. cities before heading to California to visit another aviation museum on the final leg of the U.S. mission.
“The group’s interest in aviation museums and the possibility of working with Wings Over Miami stem from the necessity for Chinese aviation businesses to build community awareness about general aviation,” said Suze Rice, Wings Over Miami president. “They are seeking an understanding to address a learning curve which will include the simple basics of flight for most of the Chinese community.”
Rice said the visit opened the door to the possibility of an aviation camp at Wings for Chinese children who would be touring Florida with their parents.
“Progression towards general aviation is becoming a real possibility in China through 20 years of effort,” Rice said. “I cannot imagine anything more exciting than to be involved with something as amazing as participating in the development of entire new industry for a country. We will look forward to following the changes in their aviation system.”