AVIATION | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Hong Kong's pioneering homebuilt registered aircraft takes off

It's a milestone in Hong Kong aviation.

A special day in the history of Hong Kong aviation was marked recently with the successful inaugural flight of the first-ever homebuilt aircraft to fly under Hong Kong registration.

According to a release from Cathay Pacific, led by Cathay Pacific pilot Hank Cheng, with support from the B-KOO “Inspiration” team, the flight took off from Hong Kong International Airport early this morning.

In 1911, the “Spirit of Sha Tin” lifted off from Hong Kong’s first privately owned airport in Sha Tin, marking the beginning of Hong Kong’s aviation industry. On 15 November 1997, a replica of this pioneering aircraft flew out of Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA).

On the same day 18 years later, the homebuilt B-KOO “Inspiration” successfully took off from HKIA for the first time, marking not only the culmination of a childhood dream for Hank Cheng but also another new landmark in the rich and colourful history of aviation in Hong Kong.

Here's more from Cathay Pacific:

Growing up in the city, Hank Cheng had always dreamed of building his own aircraft locally and flying it around the world. Today, his dream has become a reality, along the way involving hundreds of local students and many engineers and pilots from Cathay Pacific. The kit-built RV- 8 single-engine aircraft was designed by Van’s Aircraft Inc, and is one of the most popular amateur-built planes with an excellent safety record.

For seven years, Hank Cheng worked closely with groups of secondary school students from St Paul’s Convent School (SPCS) to construct the empennage, wing and fuselage of the aircraft. The “Inspiration” team had to adhere to stringent construction and operational standards. The operational certification, pre-flight testing and risk assessments were all fully documented by the team to demonstrate the airworthiness of “Inspiration” and ensure its safe operations.

Hank Cheng said: “The ‘Inspiration’ project has been a labour of love for a big group of people over the past seven years and I would like to thank everyone who helped to make my childhood dream become a reality. Particular thanks go to Rev Sister Margaret Wong, Principal at SPCS, who helped us begin the construction of ‘Inspiration’ on the school premises, hoping to inspire and nurture the younger generation to develop an interest in aviation.”

Cathay Pacific Director Corporate Affairs James Tong said: “Congratulations to Hank Cheng and the project team for their remarkable achievement in operating today’s inaugural flight for ‘Inspiration’. As Hong Kong’s home airline, Cathay Pacific has been delighted to give support to this worthwhile project in various ways, including offering our expertise and resources, and helping to solicit support from different organisations.

The ‘Inspiration’ project very much aligns with our own goals of nurturing an interest in aviation among Hong Kong’s younger generation – the people who will be the lifeblood of this important industry in the years to come.”

In addition to St Paul’s Convent School and Cathay Pacific, the “Inspiration” project team extends special thanks to Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company Limited (HAECO), the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department, Airport Authority Hong Kong, Aviation Security Company Ltd, Hong Kong Aviation Club, the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, Airport Fire Contingent and UMADX, together with countless aviation enthusiasts who have given their support.

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