Flying High

James Anthony Tan of Malaysia decided to be a pilot when he was only five. While people thought it was impossible for James a dyslexic to realise his ambition, he has proved them wrong.

Not only James, now 21, became a pilot but is only a couple of stops away from touring the world solo in a tiny, single-engine Cessna 210 eagle aircraft.

James is seeking to become the youngest pilot to complete a solo around-the-world flight, which will involve flying 22,000 nautical miles (41,000 km), covering 19 countries in four continents, in fifty days.

James says he started working to give wings to his dream early on.

"I once saw a dyslexic child and saw his dreamy helpless eyes. I knew it then that I cannot be like that and needed to find a way out for myself. I went to a regular school for three years. Then I went to Dyslexic Association of Malaysia for a year and then to an international school."

"It was difficult trying to read, write or focus but I had learnt that if you have a special gift it was not to be used as an excuse for not to succeed," he adds.

It was not easy for James to get a flying licence. "I had to work five times harder. I flew for the first time when I was 18. I took dyslexia as a gift rather than an impediment."

His flying mission began on March 26 from Langkawi in Malaysia. From there he went to Bangkok, Vietnam, Taipei, Japan, Russia, Alaska, Canada, US, back to Canada, Greenland, Iceland, UK, France, Italy, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Pakistan, Nagpur before he touched down to Kolkata, where he would halt for two days before he flew off to Myanmar, Thailand, Phuket and finally back to Malaysia on May 14.

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