Aviator Francis Chin, who came to fame in the 1970s for flying a Beagle Pup single-engined light aircraft from London to Hong Kong, has just completed a historic flight into China using a Cessna 182.

"To our knowledge there has been no single-engine piston aircraft that has been flown between Hong Kong and mainland China since 1949 but on 8 October Chin achieved that milestone by flying a Cessna 182 from Hong Kong to Shenzhen," says Martin Lin, China president for Textron, Cessna's parent.

Chin will continue his flight on to Xian and is due to arrive in the western Chinese city on 14 October. He will then fly the aircraft to Laiwu city in Shandong province.

Chin is flying a Chinese-registered aircraft as it was thought that "the approval of a Hong Kong-registered aircraft in China would be difficult, but that said, having a Chinese-registered aircraft was still difficult," says Lin, as approval from China's airspace control authority was still needed.

China's military tightly control airspace, which is largely off-limits to general aviation, with the exception of some trials taking place in Guangdong province and China's north-east.

"There has been a big push by the general aviation community in China and Western aerospace companies have been joining in the effort to try and open up this market," says Lin.

Many in the industry are hoping that the Chinese authorities in 2010 will open lower altitude airspace - 9,800ft (3,000m) and below - to general aviation, the company adds.

When Chin made his historic flight from London to Hong Kong in 1972 he had wanted to fly on to Beijing but was unable to because of the politics at the time.

Source: Flight International