Feature: A heavy-hearted search mission in southern Indian Ocean
                 English.news.cn | 2014-04-08 23:16:31 | Editor: Mu Xuequan

PERTH, Australia, April 8 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese IL-76 transport aircraft took off from Perth International Airport early Tuesday to conduct its 16th searching off Australia for the Malaysian jetliner that went missing a month ago.

Almost everyday, the Chinese military plane was the first among the multinational air fleet to start searching at around 6 a.m. local time, after two hours of preparation before dawn.

"We could feel the pain of losing family members as if they were ours," said Zhang Bing, pilot of the IL-76 jet. "Holding great awe for life, the Chinese air force has been endeavoring to search in the southern Indian Ocean over the last over 10 days."

Also in these days, the crew of two Chinese IL-76 planes in Perth spotted white floating objects three times in the remote ocean, took pictures of them, and reported them to Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC).

"Although we could not identify the relativity between these floating objects and the missing flight from sky, we are unwilling to leave out any suspicious spot," said Zhang, whose eyes were bloodshot because of fatigue and short of sleep.

Shortly after 9 a.m., the Chinese military aircraft arrived at the designated searching area and flew at a height of 400 meters.

The weather was good, in contrast with roaring high wind, rainfalls, billowy ripples and thick clouds in the past few days.

Li Sheng, a navigator of IL-76, fixed his eyes on the surface of the ocean through the porthole, gingerly combing the area in fear of ignoring any trivial clues.

Air engineer Wang Liangchu said: "Even within a blink, the target could be missed."

As for the flying aircraft, a target on the sea moved at a speed of 110 meters per second, not taking into account the flow of the ocean.

Wang was in charge of the maintenance of the two Chinese aircraft in Perth along with 10 other crew members.

According to his account, the working time of the crew aboard topped 14 hours each day.

Wang said he had his head shaved to save time cleaning.

At 11:18 a.m., Il-76 finished Tuesday's search operation and returned to Perth.

Pilot Zhang disembarked from the transport plane, feeling pity for failing to find any suspicious objects linked to MH370 while pining for a miracle that the jetliner and all passengers aboard were still safe and sound at some corner of the world.

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