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'Prayers, support of people of Malaysia kept me company'
SOUTHEND (Sun): As soon as his Cessna 210 Silver Eagle stopped on the tarmac of Southend airport, 64 km east of Central London, the indefatigable Capt James Anthony Tan, jumped out with a ravishing smile and a wave.
Six hours across some of the most unfriendliest landscape from Reykjavik had not dented the spirit of the young solo pilot on his quest to do the flight around the world and right into the World Record Academy and the Malaysia Book of Records.
Tan was greeted by Major Ahmad Rashidi Ithnin from the Defense office at the Malaysian High Commission in London as well as UK Tourism Malaysia Director, En Abdul Rauf Abu Hassan. The Malaysian High Commissioner to the UK & Eire, Datuk Zakaria Sulong and his wife, Datin Hazizah Ahmad were also there to listen to his experience flying solo halfway around the world and his inspirations to empower the pioneering minds of the youth.
Tan has embarked on this 1Malaysia Round the World (1MRTW) programme, themed ‘1Malaysia 1Dream 1Flight Round The World’. His quest has been made possible with the collaboration of the Young Pilots Association, The Felda Foundation and 1M4U.
Yesterday marked a month since he left Malaysia alone on the single engine “Spirit of Malaysia” , clocking up 25,000 km. By the time he lands in Malaysia, covering 41,000 km and 20 countries in 50 days, the 21 year old is set to be the youngest pilot to do so around the world in a single engine aircraft.
“I am so happy to be here and it has been an amazing journey. The difficulties that I faced; not just flying, logistics, weather. In Russia my right tyre was flat. It was just horrible. It was so cold as well, minus 20 and I lost any feelings in my hands. When I crossed over to Anchorage (in Alaska) the entire ocean, in fact even the waves were frozen! I realised that for the entire 1,000 km, I was the only one around. It was incredible,” he beamed.
Obliging Malaysian and local journalists and photographers present, Tan posed beside his Cessna which he lovingly called 'Sheila' and showed us around the small space in the plane which had been home for the past month.
“Actually, I am not alone on this flight. I have Bruce,” he joked, pulling out a Bruce Wayne (Batman) toy from underneath the seat.
“But seriously it is the prayers and support of the people of Malaysia that have kept me company and kept me going while I was flying,” he said earnestly.
Tan is spurred on in his quest to conquer the skies single handedly by his dream to inspire people.
“Find your dreams, and when you have dreams you have your goal and then you focus. And when you focus, you actually know what to do,” he continued.
Tan's amazing journey, when it is all over will make some inspiring reading, especially for today's youth. Asked whether there is a book in the pipeline, he flashed a smile and said: “But I am dyslexic, Maam, I can't spell! But do follow my adventures on Facebook 1RTW and also www.1rtw.com.my”.
He also has a message for his mother who he said texted him everyday asking about his well being.
“Yes, Mummy, I am eating well. Love you!,” he said blowing a kiss in her direction.
Tan will leave for Cannes, in France on Tuesday and continue flying on what he considered a better flying condition over masses of land instead of water.
In London, he is scheduled to speak to Malaysian students about his experience so far.