Footage of the dead Chinese fighter pilot Wang Wei has been released by the US government in a bid to put pressure back on the Chinese regarding the spy plane debacle.
It was taken with a camcorder on another one of the US' spyplanes in January and shows Wang Wei flying incredibly close to the plane, holding up and pointing to a piece of paper that had his email address scrawled on it.
The US military have released the film just before a key meeting in Beijing, in which the US is going to ask to have its spyplane back.
The idea is to prove that Wang Wei was a reckless pilot and thus the crash was due to his antics. This puts the burden of blame on the Chinese for the crash, with consequent positive effects on the US military.
Ironically, the image of buzzing another plane has a macho edge thanks to Tom Cruise US film Top Gun. Even though the crash and subsequent death of Wang Wei are no laughing matter, it's hard not to admire the fighter pilot's skill and derring-do in flying so close to a plane while pointing to a piece of paper.
The BBC has a Real Video story with a few clips of the footage here.
Incidentally, we were sent this interesting explanation from a reader of what the Chinese fighters pilots may have been doing just prior to the crash: "There is a well known habit among the Chinese and Russian fighter pilots to harass spy flights for obvious reasons. Since we are not at war, nor does anyone want an international mess like we have, they resort to harassment. It's called thumping. The jet positions itself, in front, and slightly under the prop plane. This disrupts the air flow across its wings, and make the plane fall, rather hard, about 20 feet or so, then its clear of the "wash" catches air again and "thumps" to a stop (of altitude loss). This rattles the pilots and crew, and can damage the aircraft when done repeatedly (and it is)."
So there you have it. ®