A former Chinese farmer with little formal schooling who later worked as an automobile mechanic has designed and built at least one ultralight that briefly flew (before crashing) -- he has now moved on to a flying saucer. Shu Mansheng's project is a structure powered by eight motorcycle engines mounted vertically. They drive individual fixed-pitch wooden propellers. The engines are arranged in an inner and outer group of four engines each. An open cockpit located in the center is mounted above spokes that both support the engines and extend to an outer circular ring. Supporters will be hoping for a more positive outcome than the innovator's last attempt.
Shu Mansheng built his first aircraft in October 2010. It was saved by an inadequate powerplant that failed to lift it off the ground. A second effort was aborted when the innovator determined it would be too heavy to fly. This April Shu built another aircraft in a span of about 15 days. He managed to fly that one over approximately 30 meters at an altitude less than seven meters above the ground before he crashed. Shu Mansheng has been able to focus on his aviation exploits after some advances in his career led him to a financial windfall. He retired from his day job and now works full-time on his aviation adventures. His latest scheme has consumed the equivalent of nearly $10,000. His dream is to create a school "where kids can learn things not taught in regular school," he told WorldTourist.com.