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Aviator Theme Park ready for takeoff

The Aviator Theme Park, covering more than 40,000 square meters at the former World Expo 2010 site in Shanghai, opens to the public this month after two months' trial operation.

More than 500 aircraft, tanks and ships are displayed in the park's exhibition hall. Some rare models from private collectors and auctions are sure to charm military fans.

The highlight of the park - a Boeing 747 airplane - is being reassembled at the spacious Starry Sky Square. Wu Jun, vice-director of the park's marketing department, says they purchased the retired plane from the United States.

"With the help of Boeing engineers who worked for nearly eight months, the plane was dismantled into 2,895 parts with various shapes, which were shipped to Shanghai in 85 containers," he says, adding that retired Boeing engineers even volunteered to come to the park to instruct workers reassembling the giant creature. Engineers reassemble some small-size aircraft in a transparent warehouse on the spot to show the process.

There are three kinds of flight simulators to satisfy both ordinary people and aviation fans.

Visitors can sit in the flight simulator and experience takeoff and landing, or sit in an air control tower simulator to learn air traffic control and understand the reasons for flight delays.

Other aviator-themed items are also on show, like an aviator jacket - the one worn by Tom Cruise in his 1986 blockbuster Top Gun.

The park also offers paper plane throwing for children. A piece of paper is folded six times to make it into a plane that is then thrown forcefully. Those who throw the longest distance will have a chance to gain free air miles. The world record for the longest distance thrown is 58.9 meters. The honor belongs to a US man, according to Wu.

The Expo's former Peru Pavilion was rebuilt into a 360-degree circular-screen cinema where visitors can watch aviation-themed movies.