Spanning over 39 episodes, the modern series take a look at the profession of pilots. The series is helmed by Wang Kai and Tan Song Yun as the main leads Gu Nan Ting and Cheng Xiao. The series introduces Cheng Xiao as a bubbly & passionate pilot in the Freight Department of Luzhou Air. When the Freight Department is closed down, she is transferred to the Passenger Flight Department under the care of Deputy Director Gu Nan Ting, who is always serious about safety rules & guidelines. Their clash in personalities result in crossing of words and sparks.
Due to her assumed biases towards Gu Nan Ting’s personalities, she is defensive and often feels the need to prove that her professional judgment in flying is correct. As time goes by, she slowly sheds the prejudices that is built against Gu Nan Ting, especially with friends pointing out factually accurate statements relating to Gu Nan Ting’s actions.
As she transitions from flying cargo airplanes to passenger airplanes, she is exposed to different considerations and nuances relating to management of passengers, maintenance and ground processes, including
- Sexual harassment that air stewardess faces from passengers. Incidents include the roving hands of the passengers and the implied pressure to accede to passengers’ requests to go out for dates.
- Delays in flying and its dominoes effect to the mood of the passengers.
- Planning for route to accommodate weather & managing turbulence on air, with focus on communications to passengers.
- Various ground work & hangar maintenance for the aircrafts
- Accidents in runways and the investigative process
- Evacuation process during emergency landing
- Medical emergencies & death during flights, and the decision-making to divert airplanes
- Post-traumatic stress disorder relating to flying
There are significant emphases on safety regulations & guidelines during flights and providing equal chances for female pilots. These are great topics but are only superficially touched without any serious exploration on challenges and different perspectives.
Romance-wise, the series obviously focuses on Cheng Xiao and Gu Nan Ting’s journeys, whereby the shaky start slowly thaws off the hardened hearts. It is quite apparent to others that they are falling in love with each other. While Cheng Xiao accepts the attractions naturally and is very open to giving more time to Gu Nan Ting to face his own feelings, he seems to be totally indecisive.
Previously losing his trainee pilot girlfriend to a solo-flying accident near the sea, he is reluctant to accept new love and his own feelings for Cheng Xiao. He mostly ignores his feelings (and Cheng Xiao’s obvious confession) and flips flops in his feelings. The most frustrating part is when his good friend Ni Zhan states his feelings for Cheng Xiao and his intention to pursue her, Gu Nan Ting actually retreats completely. The situation confuses Cheng Xiao who becomes angry and as Gu Nan Ting describes aptly later – he is afraid to admit to his feelings for Cheng Xiao and ended up hurting all 3 of them ie Cheng Xiao, Ni Zhan and himself.
Muse #1 I have always liked Wang Kai as an actor since watching him in Nirvana In Fire. Unfortunately, he has not taken many drama series in recent years. This series is probably not his best, but he fits into the character very easily playing the straight-faced, aloof and serious pilot instructor, who falls in love with his bubbly student. My only grouse is the character’s flip flop in admitting his feelings for Cheng Xiao. He is so slow in realising his own feelings, taking more time to be sure even with his own mother and his master reminding him not to have any regrets. BUT I shall forgive him for having such a manly handsome and angular face. 😀
Muse #2 Tan Song Yun’s English name is Seven. Having watched her in The Sword and the Brocade, I like her acting. I am very impressed how she has managed to keep her youthful look, and her great figure even while wearing suit pants as a female pilot. She also manages to bring out her curvy figures in the other series The Sword and the Brocade. Another thing that strikes me is how short she is. She is wearing such high heels (so impractical in the industry) and barely touches Wang Kai’s ears, bearing in mind Wang Kai himself is not that tall especially compared with the actor portraying Ni Zhan.
Luckily, as Cheng Xiao faces another round of challenges amidst investigation on a flight, Gu Nan Ting goes all out to seek adequate evidences to turn the investigations and court case. As both goes through the conflicts together, the relationship improves and Gu Nan Ting is finally able to openly admit his strong feelings of love for Cheng Xiao, thus letting go of his past burdens to embrace a new chapter with Cheng Xiao in his life.
Family-relationship wise, Cheng Xiao has an extremely supportive father on her choice of career, but an extremely objectional mother who is set against her career choice. The conflicts between mother-daughter always end up with shouting matches and sour faces to match. The differences in views are ascribed to Cheng Xiao’s mother who suffered PTSD post her turbulent flight which injured the air stewardess serving her. Their differences are finally resolved when the incident is shared to Cheng Xiao and her mother finally accepts help from a psychologist to treat her disorder.
Muse #3 I would say Cheng Xiao’s character probably takes after her mother – the stubbornness and wilfulness. BUT her mother is very unreasonable in many situations eg trying to sell of her apartment without her knowledge to get her to return home, changing her choice of college and majors in her university application forms. These actions really border on control-freak level, showing a lack of respect for her daughter’s decision and does not endear anyone to her. It is no wonder that Cheng Xiao is eager to fly off from the nest soonest.
Without good colleagues to get through the day, how would anyone manage their daily drama? Henceforth, various friends are introduced throughout the series.
- Xia Zhi – the extremely positive, energetic, bumbling good friend of Cheng Xiao who chooses to be an air stewardess. Direct and straight forward, she oftens get into trouble with passengers. As the head of stewardess commented that she is unable to understand Xia Zhi as she gets as many complain letters as compliment letters for her efforts in the cabin.
- Li Yu Heng – the love-struck young girl who chooses to be an air stewardess in Luzhou Air to be nearer to Gu Nan Ting. Unfortunately for her, he treats her as a younger sister. As she grows through the pain of rejection, she finds her own path and passion for the career she has chosen, and ended up with a reliable and stable ground staff.
- Song Song – the easy-going pilot who is mostly hen-pecked by the girlfriend and anyone else for that matter. He ends up falling in love with Xia Zhi.
- Ni Zhan – the ever-reliable good friend of Gu Nan Ting, who also strikes up a great friendship with Cheng Xiao. He falls in love with Cheng Xiao but is nicely rejected.
- Ai Jia – the head stewardess who manages the team well and with lots of soft hearts, and also the wife to Captain Xie.
Muse #4 I quite like the couple of Captain Xie and Head Stewardess Ai Jia. Very little is provided on their relationship other than they got together after a turbulent flight landing when Captain Xie confesses his feelings. Such a lovely, stable couple – model couple!
Although office politics are briefly interjected throughout the series, these are only superficially touched. The villain is Jiang Tao the existing Director of the Passenger Flight Department. Vying for a position in the senior management team, Jiang Tao is threatened with the ideas of the younger generations ie Ni Zhan and Gu Nan Ting. His ending is quite sad as he takes on a route of deception to obtain an advantage in his pursuit of a senior role in the company. So unnecessary.
Muse #5 Liu Yu Jun is the actor portraying Jiang Tao, whereby he has also starred in other series including Nirvana in Fire II, The Legacy and others. I do like the veteran actor, and he plays a good villain with his facial expression. Looking forward to him in other equally villainous roles.
Generally, a light and average watch. I have enjoyed the smooth storyline of Gu Nan Ting and Cheng Xiao. At first exasperated with Cheng Xiao’s stubbornness in proving her judgment right, she does win over people easily with her passion, perseverance and sincerity at work.
As the series only manages to touch superficially on many different topics, it is a waste of materials. I would have loved it if they could highlight some of the factual situations faced by pilots, cabin crew, ground staff, maintenance staff, baggage handlers. By doing so, I thought it would have been better educations for the mass to better respect these professions. Especially in the post-Covid era whereby flying would once again be significant in our lives. Airlines have been significantly affected during the Covid period while many working in the airline industry have suffered financially. The series should have been able to provide some link to reality.
There were moments where I thought there was blatant attempt for advertisement of products including car-rental services, household electrical items, beverages. It is really funny when significant screen time is given within the series for such advertisement.
As in any flight-related shows, how can we not compare against HK TVB’s Triumph in the Skies I and II starring actors and actresses including Francis Ng, Joe Ma, Flora Chan and Myolie Wu in the first instalment and Francis Ng, Julian Cheung, Ron Ng, Kenneth Ma, Him Law, Myolie Wu, Fala Chen, Nancy Wu and Elena Kong in the 2nd instalment. I have to say the HK series are much more realistic with more interesting characters & storylines to shoutout. On top of it, the theme songs of Triumph in the Skies are such classic lovely songs as shared below.
Francis Ng and Julian Cheung looks extremely good in their pilot uniform, way better compared to Wang Kai. 😀 My conclusion is that taller men will look better in uniforms.