Dreams take off on unforgettable C919 flight from Hong Kong

For Halifee Kwok, a sophomore at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, nothing could be more memorable than being taken high up to the sky in a C919 passenger jet.

For Halifee Kwok, a sophomore at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), nothing could be more memorable and exhilarating than being taken high up to the sky in a Chinese homegrown C919 passenger jet.

This was the maiden cross-border chartered flight by a C919 airliner. On June 1, a round-trip flight carried Kwok and 100-plus other students from Hong Kong to Shanghai for a weeks-long internship and exchange program.

"It's so cozy, with super smooth landing!" she told Xinhua. In the case of C919, experiencing is believing.

"It's cool to sit in the cabin and see the water coming down on you and see it slide through the porthole and fuselage!" Eyes wide open, Kwok was amazed by a water salute on the plane's historic arrival at the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, a rarely-watched scene and a "first" for her.

This water salute was not the only highlight. Prior to their flight from Hong Kong to Shanghai, students were blown away by a cabin decorated with neon lights flickering right above their seats upon their boarding.

Cheng Tan Yuet, a student from Hong Kong University, said she had "never experienced such a dreamy flight."

During the approximately 2-hour flight, the cabin activated spray cooling to keep the air fresh and the temperature pleasant. "It feels comfortable here, the food tastes great, and the air smells fresh," said another HKUST student Geri Tang.

Students on board the flight also praised the comfort of the C919, saying that the spacious aisle as well as seats pre-equipped with pillows and blankets are "sleep-friendly."

As the flight surprises them with many "firsts," the homegrown large jetliner also carries on it the dreams of these aspiring young students and many more.

In mid-December 2023, China's C919 made its first visit to Hong Kong with ARJ21, another domestic aircraft for a static display at the Hong Kong International Airport. The C919 also performed a fly-past over the scenic Victoria Harbor.

"We were deeply moved by the spectacle of residents and tourists watching from both sides of Victoria Harbor and were determined to facilitate such a charter flight so that Hong Kong youth could have the opportunity to experience it first-hand," said Henry Yeung, head of the Hong Kong-Shanghai Youth Association.

"Taking a C919 to Shanghai for an internship this year will help Hong Kong youth feel the development of the Chinese mainland more directly and seize new opportunities," Yeung said.

"This trip to Shanghai may help shape my career choice," said Hong Kong student Woody Chan Baak Qiu. Chan is not engaged in biomedicine majors, but he wrote "medicine" as his career preference for the internship, hoping that his personal interest in this field can take root with the bountiful opportunities in Shanghai.

"An internship at the airport is my top choice," said Halifee Kwok. On June 3, she stood out among a group of students to earn an internship in airport service management at the Shanghai Hong Kong Airport Management Co. Ltd..

"My mentor is very patient with me, and I understood on Day One all my scope of business throughout the internship. I'm good at serving others, and I hope to gain more from this internship at the airport," she said.

This is the first time for Kwok on a distant journey away from home for weeks. As a liberal arts major, she cherished deeply this precious opportunity to make her love for the sky a reality, "I dream of soaring into the sky like the C919!"

"I chose Shanghai two years in a row, but with different internship focuses to enrich my experience," said Pang Tsz Ho, a business major from Lingnan University, Hong Kong. Pang will be practicing in a trading company to better prepare for his career.

Pang spent his childhood on Cheung Chau Island before moving to Tung Chung with his family. "My home was very close to the Hong Kong International Airport. Growing up by the sea, we are not afraid of 'hanging wind balls' (Hong Kong tropical cyclone warning signals). There was almost a 'wind ball' this time, but we believed in C919, it would definitely be safe and sound."

"The whole flight was smooth. Staying on board a large domestic airliner, I felt particularly proud of being Chinese!" said Pang, commenting on the journey passing from rains to sunshine.

At the end of the journey, plane models, greeting cards with the signature of the captain and hand-painted cartoon portraits of the crew welcoming everyone on board were also a part of making their day.

"I will keep this card by my bed," one of the students told Xinhua excitedly.

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