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 Shouldering Heavy Duties for the Revolution

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Shouldering Heavy Duties for the Revolution

by Chu Hui-fen

Source: Peking Review, No. 33, August 17, 1973
Transcribed for www.wengewang.org

“Times have changed, and today men and women are equal," as our great leader Chairman Mao has taught us. The road to the complete liberation of China's women in the political, economic and cultural fields has been opened up by the superior socialist system. The maturing of China's women flyers is a miniature reflection of millions of emancipated Chinese women. When I think of the miserable past and contrast it with the present, I deeply understand that women have been emancipated and some of us have been able to be pilots only because of the leadership of the Party and Chairman Mao and his revolutionary line.
   Like China's working women, we women pilots all experienced bitterness and misery in the dark old society. My father and mother were impoverished peasants in Shanghai's Chiating County where I was born. Ground down by landlords' exploitation and oppression after the Japanese aggressors invaded China in 1937, my father carried me when I was only two years old and the family belongings in two baskets attached to a shoulder-pole and we begged our way from Chiating to Shanghai.
   My father was dead less than two years later, a victim of ruthless exploitation by the capitalists. My infant brother soon died of serious illness, the result of cold and hunger. To bring me up, mother had to work as a maid in a capitalist's house.Three years after my father's death, mother came home one day.  Holding me tightly, she tearfully said: Hui-fen, how are you going to live when your mother ties!" I was too young to understand what she meant.

When I got home that noon after picking through rubbish heaps on the streets, tragedy greeted me as I opened the door. Unable to stand the humiliation and harsh treatment by the capitalist any longer, my mother had taken her own life.
   In three short years, three lives in my family had been snatched away by the man-eating old society! Before liberation there were millions of working women, like my mother, who were deprived of the right to live, and countless orphans, like myself, who suffered all sorts of discrimination and oppression. Millions of down-trodden class sisters, including myself, looked forward to liberation day and night!
   In 1956, seven years after liberation, at the age of 19 I joined the people's air force to learn piloting a plane.
   For women to fly planes was unimaginable before liberation in 1949. And we women did have many difficulties in learning to fly. We had to master control over big transport planes and practise many flying courses day and night and in all kinds of weather. We had to have courage, wisdom and strong bodies. And things did not go smoothly at the start. While the instructor guided us in piloting a plane, it acted like an unharnessed wild horse and wouldn't perform the way we wanted. It zigzagged at take-off shot up and dropped down in the air. and immediately going straight to the runway for a landing was not easy, and when we did put the plane on the ground it was with much bumping.
   Should we go forward against difficulties or retreat? That the Party and Chairman Mao wanted women comrades to leans to fly was a manifestation of their confidence in us. Therefore, we regarded learning to become pilots as a political task and a struggle against the centuries-old feudal vestiges in our country. To develop our strength, we did a great deal of physical exercise and joined the men in playing ball and distance running, practising on the cartwheels and climbing the suspended ladder. To judge the runway accurately, we measured distances with our eyes while riding a bus or walking. When we went to bed, we practised the hand and foot co-ordinating movements in controlling the joystick.
   By hard study and practice, group after group of women flyers mastered the necessary techniques, and were able independently to fly missions in all kinds of difficult weather conditions. Many have become instructors.
   Firmly remembering Chairman Mao's teaching "Heighten our vigilance, defend the motherland,” we fulfilled many tasks connected with preparedness against war. Once we ran into very complex weather conditions. While the plane was darling in cloud and mist, big raindrops showered on the screen and nothing could be seen outside except dark low clouds. Commanding officers were on our plane, and. therefore, whether I could land the plane safely in the airport was a test for me.
   Keeping Chairman Mao's teaching "Be brave, firm and cool" in mind, 1 firmly grasped the control column and lowered the plane into the clouds. It descended rapidly—the altitude dropped to 200 metres. 100 metres . . . but visibility was still poor and the runway remained invisible. Concentrating on the readings on the meters in the cockpit and in co-operation with other crew members at the crucial moment. I continued lowering the plane until it finally came through the sea of clouds. We vaguely sighted the runway and the plane landed safely.
   Over the years we women flyers have flown missions from the Tienshan Mountains in the northwest to the Changpai Mountains in the northeast, and from the southwestern Yunnan-Kweichow Plateau to the east coast. We have brought artificial rain for dry crops, delivered food and clothes to our class sisters and brothers stranded by floodwaters, rescued people whose lives were in danger, and diligently practised skills in dealing with the enemy in preparedness against war. We women flyers say with pride: "We pilot our silver 'eagles' to defend and build our motherland."
   May 10, 1964 was a day I'll never forget in my life. On that day I had the honour to be received by Chairman Mao in the reception hall of the Great Hall of the People. Beaming and in high spirits, Chairman Mao walked towards us with firm steps! Standing very close to him, I couldn't hold back the tears of joy that streamed down my cheeks.
   Pointing at me, a leading comrade at the reception told Chairman Mao: 'This is woman flyer Chu Hui-fen." Chairman Mao took another step towards me and extended his hand. I immediately grasped it firmly and a warm feeling of happiness quickly spread throughout my body. Smiling, Chairman Mao asked: 'Can you pilot an airplane?'' I was so excited at the moment and didn't know what should be said first because so many words came into my mind. I continuously nodded my answer. Chairman Mao looked at me kindly and smiled cheerfully.
   The Ninth National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party opened on April 1, 1969. Together with many other women Party members who were delegates, I had the honour of attending the congress and the happiness of listening to Chairman Mao's cordial talks, and discussed important matters of the Party and the state with Party member-delegates from the country's various fronts. . . .
   Our great leader Chairman Mao has said: "When women all over the country rise up, that will be the day of victory for the Chinese revolution." This sentence shows Chairman Mao's greatest confidence in us women and inspires us to carry a heavy load for socialist revolution and construction. There have emerged on China's various fronts hundreds of advanced women individuals and collectives. The fact that women cadres have continuously come forward in large numbers is an important indication of the emancipation of China's women and an embodiment of the superiority of the socialist system.
  The Party and the people recently put me in a leading post at the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China. As I am rather young and haven't had much experience, I am fully aware of the heavy duty I shoulder. I'm determined to live up to the expectations put on me by the Party and Chairman Mao, persevere in studying the works by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and Chairman Mao's works, temper myself by taking a more active part in the struggle between the two classes, the two roads and the two lines, and continuously raise my consciousness of carrying out Chairman Mao's revolutionary line. I'll keep to the fine working style of hard struggle, be a good servant of the people and work for the revolutionary cause all my life!
  
* The author, 36 years old, is a member of China's second group of women pilots. She was recently appointed a deputy political commissar of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China. The photo above shows the author when she was a flyer.


Source: Peking Review, No. 33, August 17, 1973
Transcribed for www.wengewang.org
  
  
  

 
 
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