China is mourning the death of Yu Xu, the country’s first female J-10 jet pilot who was killed during an aerobatic training session on Saturday.
The domestically made jet crashed into a field in Tangshan, Hebei province.
“We have lost a comrade and the air force feels great pain and sadness for Yu Xu’s sacrifice,” air force spokesman Shen Jinke said.
According to reports, Ms Yu was forced to eject from her plane after it collided with another.
Another pilot, 35, survived the crash. He is said to have been her co-pilot and has already been discharged from hospital, the Beijing News reported.
The black box and the engine of the aircraft have been retrieved and an investigation is underway.
Ms Yu, from Sichuan province, joined the air force in 2005. She was the first of four female pilots to qualify to fly the two-seater, multi-role J-10 fighter jet.
“I am very lucky that I can fly,” Ms Yu had said in an interview. “I don’t need to think about anything but flying. If possible, I can look at the skies to divert my attention. It is another world. It’s wonderful.”
Many online community expressed sadness at the sudden death of Ms Yu, who was affectionately known as “golden peacock”.
“(Ms Yu) left the world at most beautiful stage of one’s life. What a saddening loss,” internet user Dong Tao Jun wrote on Weibo.
Another netizen said: “Soldiers sacrifice themselves for the sake of the safety and happiness of the people… We are thankful for the contribution of soldiers.”
However, three crashes involving the J-10 fighter jets took place last year, and some people were dissatisfied with the way state media reported her death.
“It is more important to investigate the causes of the accident. Was it a design problem? Was it a problem with the procedures? Was it because of inadequate training?”
“[The reports] shouldn’t just be about arousing emotions. We will only be able to avoid similar accidents if the causes of the accident are found,” said one Weibo user.