Homemade airplane from farmer in China flies!

Craft & Design Energy & Sustainability

This appears to be a video of a homemade airplane made in China by a farmer called the “Shanzhai huaxiangji” via Kottke. It’s hard to tell what’s actually going on, it could be a fake but there are some interesting things about what it’s called — more about the airplane (name) here. “Shanzhai” means homemade or counterfeit and there are tons of other “Shanzhai” projects literally floating around! This could be a Shanzhai Shanzhai if it’s fake!

62 thoughts on “Homemade airplane from farmer in China flies!

  1. Max says:

    – No throttle control, and yet the engine changes pitch

    – No attitude control, yet the ‘plane’ banks and yaws

    – No photos, yet we believe a one-angle video.

    Don’t get me wrong, this *looks* pretty funny. But it’s obvious that it’s just a bucket seat being pulled from the back of a real plane. Perhaps a mis-translation from the Mandarin?

  2. Kevin DeMarco says:

    I agree with the previous comment by Max. This is definitely a fake. But, I don’t think it was even dragged by another plane. I am pretty sure the guy was sitting in front of a green screen with a large fan blowing on him. This is really obvious at the end of the video where the “lands” at around 4:02 into the movie. The video behind the pilot rocks back and forth like a cessna would due to its smaller landing gear in the back.

  3. I'ts Me says:

    I’m not convinced this is real either, but please do explain how its “just a bucket seat being pulled from the back of a real plane”, instead of a blue screen, or something else? Is it really that obvious? And “western gullibility” huh?

  4. Cody says:

    I don’t see what’s so hard to believe about it.. the lever he’s adjusting with his left hand looks to be the throttle, the engine backs down when he lets go of it.. he’s controlling the lift with the lever in front of him, & it wouldn’t be a stretch to think he’s turning the craft with foot pedals.

    Besides, it doesn’t matter if it’s fake or not. Why could someone not have built a light aircraft? They’re everywhere, & they don’t just materialize.
    No different than some of the innovation that came out of DIY machines from the Soviet Union or Cuba when the “factory made” alternative wasn’t easily found.

  5. Tercero says:

    It’s not fake. It’s real. It’s a high wing of some sorts, and the throttle control looks like a twist. It’s not a “green screen with a fan”. What a jaded group posting today. Good for the maker/pilot of this.

    25+ years of multi engine rating gives me a hell of a lot more insight than the previous posters.

  6. Brenton says:

    It landed and had almost no ground roll. He definitely would have had stall issues going that slow.

  7. vt says:

    If you watch how the aircraft maneuvers after it’s landed, you’d realize that it’s most probably not a fixed-wing aircraft, but rather some sort of rotary-wing aircraft (probably an autogyro, judging from the take-off). So “stall” in the fixed-wing sense is irrelevant.

    However, I think it’s suspicious that the pilot doesn’t look like he’s experiencing any acceleration on his body at all – somehow, he manages to keep the same straight posture even while the aircraft is banking…

  8. mark says:

    Having been a pilot for many years I see nothing wrong with the way the mans body is reacting. There is very little acceleration on the pilot in small planes like this during normal maneuvers. Judging by the slip when he turns I’m pretty sure that all he has for directional control is a rudder – no ailerons.

    At one point he lets go with his left hand as if to show stability. Which makes me think it might be a collective, but I doubt it. I think it’s just a throttle. I don’t know how auto-gyros work, do they have collectives?

    As for stall speed, I don’t think he was going that slow at touch down. Looked like about 45 knots or so which in ground effect (which he was experiencing a lot of because he kept it there with power) is a perfectly reasonable speed without stalling.

    The amount of roll out did seem quite short though. He would’ve had to really slam the breaks to do that – and he doesn’t seem to react like that’s likely. The landing is the fishiest looking part to me.

    The lack of accuracy for balanced turns (the slip I referred to before) lends credibility to the video. A faker might not even think to do that.

  9. WG says:

    Look at the background as the video starts, you can see the rotor blades spinning in the upper left corner. See this video for a better view of a gyrocopter, same control layout, same non-airplane type of performance.


  10. steve lodefink says:

    Looks real to me.

    It is definitely a gyro. The left hand is the throttle, the stick is the cyclic control and the feet are the rudder controls. The lever on the cyclic is probably a wheel brake. Often light gyros will have a lever there to engage the rotor prerotator, but it is doubtfull that this machine has a prerotator. He probably just stands up on the seat and spins the rotor by hand prior to taxi.

  11. ZenDraken says:

    Autogyro. That would explain the long takeoff run, to get the rotor spun up, the vibration in the stick, the slipping turns, and the slow landing speed. You can also just see there is a pusher propeller.

    To have a fixed-wing with three-axis control (stick and rudder) you would probably see at least the elevator behind the propeller, and generally more structure behind the pilot to hold the elevator/rudder in place.

    The only other alternatives would be a hang-glider wing, which would be a weight-shift control, not stick and rudder, or a parasail, which would be visible on landing.

  12. ZenDraken says:

    Can’t be a parasail: He’s starting from a dead stop. Aren’t parasails weight-shift controlled?

  13. Anonymous says:

    I think he meant that the seat was pulled out of the back of an airplane, like removed, not that is was towed.

    Personal opinion it looks fake, guy is rock solid in his seat for take off and turns.

  14. Come on says:

    Seriously…. its super fake. The landing bounce at the end gives it away. Not to mention that the lighting on his shirt stays the same throughout the video no matter what orientation the plane is heading.

    Not to say that it can’t be done of course… lots of people building ultralights and flying them. Just saying that this one is painfully fake.

  15. David H Glover says:

    Just a gyrocopter – no big deal, they look and fly just like the video.

  16. c-dub says:

    The lighting on his shirt stays the same? It’s an overcast day, with no distinct shadows — what do expect to see, exactly?

  17. mitchell12 says:

    It’s real. It doesn’t seem to have much visible tail so saying it’s a gyrocopter would make sense. Either way you would not need to touch the ailerons to roll anyways even as a fixed wing. If you yaw with the rudder the outside wing creates more lift thus rolling as well as yawing. Not to hard to imagine this being real. Trust the few pilots including myself who believe it.

  18. meme says:

    I’m not sure why you’d make a fake video of a girocopter, its pretty cool but nothing I wouldn’t think is doable, they’re not rocket science ;)

    though maybe it does pray on the preconseption that the chinese couldnt do something like this, therefore people want to think its fake?

  19. meme says:

    “I would think is doable”

    there goes my “n’t” typo again, it never help when trying to get my point across ;)

  20. meme says:


  21. kingv100 says:

    maybe it’s the lighting, but something definitely looks chitty chitty bang bangish. But regarding greenscreens: you can see the background through his buffeting clothes, and that seems a little tough for a chromakey. The vibration seems pretty authentic, too. I’m pretty convinced, but I’m wondering what control surfaces the stick is controlling.

  22. My Pet Fly says:

    Some things I noticed…

    1. There didn’t seem to be much side to side stick movement when he banked, so that points in the direction of a fake.

    2. Since he spent some time with only one finger on the stick, that makes me think the control is really sensitive, which would mean he wouldn’t need much stick movement to bank. That points to real, negating point number 1.

    3. A few times the stick slipped from his grasp and tilted forward. When this happened, the aircraft seemed to nose forward too. This points to real, specifically an airplane that needs a bit of nose-up trim.

    So I vote for real. It can’t be THAT hard to build a little airplane like that as long as you’ve got the basic theory of flight down.

  23. Anonymous says:

    If it’s real, then why did he mount a camera on the plane facing him and showing only his lower body? Too many people here are willing to defend this video as authentic just because the pilot acts like he’s flying a real plane.

    If it is real, he would have had someone else hold the camera and film him take off. But for the sake of argument it seems three different experts would have to analize this video to prove authenticity.

    1. a pilot that has flown many small planes.
    2. a video photography expert who also had his equipment to analyse the video.
    3. someone experienced in producing fake videos.

  24. Mark says:

    I am military pilot with almost 7000 hrs, instructing since 1992. I am convinced it is real. What sold me is the way his clothes and the yellow rag in the lower left of the screen react to yaw changes in the slip stream. If it has been faked then it is more impressive than some bloke building his own gyrocopter.

  25. Max says:

    D’oh! In my haste to debunk, I totally forgot about autogyros….

    With minimal controls, a gyro could handle a lot more like we see in the video, even if I’m skeptical.

    I’m not gonna say it’s real until I see a photo of the final thing with the guy standing next to it, but an autogyro would be easier to build…(I’d love to try one too, after all!)

  26. massivemutant.com says:


  27. The Snob says:

    I’m sold that it’s an autogyro. I’m a private pilot and have seen them at fly-ins, agree with the above posters that the flight characteristcs (long takeoff, short landing, slipping turns) matches up well.

    As an aside, the name “shanzai glider” is kind of funny because I think “shanzai” (lit. mountain village) basically translates as “redneck” in idiomatic slang terms.

  28. Ramdak says:

    It looks like an autogyro! It has not fixed wings… it has a big rotor on top, like a helicopter and a pusher prop un the back of the pilot. It should have a rudder and a horizontal stab, but it can´t be seen from that angle.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Ever hear of the wright brothers? Americans have been making homemade airplanes for 100+ years.
    In America do a google search for EAA it has thousands of members who make their own airplanes and not substandard videos.

  30. TTMICH says:

    The flying machine has severe vibrations especially at the control stick. So bad that he could not hold the stick very long. Components or parts that vibrates that much will breakdown due to materials fatigues. The builder and his machine won’t last very long with this kind of problems

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