Double amputee teen intends to soar as pilot

Updated: 2016-01-07 08:27

By Huang Zhiling in Dujiangyan, Sichuan(China Daily)

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Double amputee teen intends to soar as pilot

Huang Meihua and her mother at the Guangya School. HUANG ZHILING/CHINA DAILY

Resilient spirit inspires flying school to give girl all-expense paid lessons

An earthquake buried Huang Meihua in the rubble of her primary school, crushing the then 11-year-old's legs, but not her spirit.

The resilience she showed in the days after the 8.0 magnitude earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008, waiting helplessly in a makeshift shed without medical care, has continued to define her character.

The roads inaccessible, a military helicopter finally flew Huang to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, where doctors had to amputate her legs. 

"How I wished I had wings to fly to safety," she said. "It is due to this experience that I have a special feeling for pilots and flying."

In December, the experience prompted Huang to apply for training as a pilot at the Imperial Canadian Flying School when it enrolled trainees from the Guangya School where she has been a student for nearly seven years.

Moved by her story and enterprising spirit, the school offered the 18-year-old free training in Vancouver for three weeks in February, covering all her living expenses.

"One doesn't need feet to fly a plane. As a straight-A student most of time, I believe I can be a pilot," Huang said, sitting in her wheelchair in her dormitory at the Guangya School in Dujiangyan, Sichuan.

After her initial recovery, Huang studied in a makeshift primary school in Beichuan county, earning the highest scores in all of her subjects. A year after the earthquake, she started as a sixth grader at the Guangya School, offered a free education by headmaster Qing Guangya until her graduation from its high school in 2016.

Guangya, the first private school in Sichuan, educates students who will pursue university studies in English-speaking countries. All subjects are taught in English. 

Upon entering the school, Huang could not understand English. In the first semester, she scored 66 of 100 in English, but she was quick-witted and studied very hard and received a score of 98 in the next semester, teacher Yi Jing said.

"She has been a top student in her class of 20 ever since and she is very good at English, biology and chemistry," Yi said. "She is fluent in English when she talks with foreign teachers."

Huang's mother, 44-year-old Yan Xiaorong, wheels Huang to her classroom every day. The school offered the family free lodging and Huang's 54-year-old father Huang Seqing obtained a job in the school canteen.

Huang Meihua always has a smile on her face. Despite her disability, she has confidence.

The school treats disabled students as equals and allows her to participate in all activities, such as dancing and physical education, said Xu Wencan, Huang's classmate.

With a score of 101 out of 120 on the English-language TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam, Huang has applied to 12 top-notch universities in the United States, including Stanford. She hopes to get a full scholarship to major in biology or chemistry upon graduating next summer.

"When I receive the training in Canada, I will try to learn about universities there. If possible, I would also like to apply for one there," Huang said.