Last week we mentioned a 20-year old Californian pilot who is attempting to fly around the world, but recently a 21-year-old Malaysian pilot named James Anthony Tan who suffers from dyslexia made a record breaking half-way around the world flight in a single-engine Cessna 210 Eagle aircraft – making him the first Malaysian and the youngest pilot to do so according to Malaysian media accounts.
However, Tan’s achievement as a pilot is extra special because dyslexia makes reading words, numbers and symbols difficult, but dyslexic people are also highly creative, intuitive and excel at three-dimensional problem solving. Tan avoids flying at night but he still holds a pilot’s licence from Australia and UK authorities.
His 20,000 km flight began in Langkawi, Malaysia on March 26 and ended at Teteboro, New Jersey in April with the route taking him to or through Subang, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Russia and Canada. Upon landing the “The Spirit of Malaysia,” Tan was given a rousing welcome by the Malaysian community in New York and he will return to Kuala Lumpur via Phuket on May 15.
Regarding the flight, Tan commented:
“I had some moments of concern…about adequate fuel, whether I was on the right course, etc. But I was really scared when I flew across Russia to Alaska. The ocean below me was frozen…I even saw frozen waves! What would happen if something went wrong with the plane as I flew this long stretch of airspace. It was scary…”
Tan’s flight was intended to raise awareness about the problems faced by children with special needs and to show that such children can still “chase their own dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem.” He has also already been inducted into Malaysia’s Book of Record for his previous expedition of 13,000 nautical miles from the UK to Bangkok last year.