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Former Chinese farmer builds flying saucer

Jason Lee / Reuters

Local farmer Shu Mansheng sets up a propeller on the motorcycle engine of his self-designed and made flying device before the first test flight in front of his house in Dashu village, on the outskirts of Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei province August 30.

According to aviation news site AVweb, 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.

Jason Lee / Reuters

Mansheng (in red) tests the engines of his flying device ahead of his first test flight. The round steel flying device, which cost more than 20,000 yuan, was the fifth model made by Shu, a junior middle school graduate. It measures up to 5.5 meters in diameter, and is powered by eight motorcycle engines.

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.

Jason Lee / Reuters

Mansheng sucks fuel out from a tank with his mouth as he tries to refuel his flying device, which uses Coke bottles as fuel tanks. in the cabin before his first test flight in front of his house in Dashu village, on the outskirts of Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei province August 30, 2011.

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.

Jason Lee / Reuters

The device failed a recent test flight.

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.