A single engine Cessna, the globe, and a 21-year old daredevil

At 2l, Captain Tan has become the youngest person to fly solo around the world, completing a journey of more than 22,000 nautical miles in 50 days. Capt Tan’s historical flight in a single-engine Cessna 2l0 Eagle took him to 20 countries. He shares his experience with Abhijit Ganguly.

What inspired you to become a pilot?

I was amazed to see the Boeing 747 for the first time at the age of 5. When I was flying to the UK on a holiday, I saw a red fighter flying 90 degrees up in the air and I said to myself, “You know what, I'm going to become a pilot.” That was it.

What prompted you to make this journey around the world?

My journey around the world is an attempt to inspire persons with special needs and make them believe that they can also achieve their dreams. I wanted to do something to inspire and motivate people and convey the message to youngsters from all over the world that nothing is impossible. I would like people to see disability as a gift and dream because that is what inspires people to get direction in life. If I can do it, anyone can. I just wanted to promote the idea that you can do it if you believe in yourself.

Could you share with us some hair raising moments you had experienced during the journey?

I had faults with the plane's hydraulic system as I flew from Alaska to Vancouver in Canada. In one of the stopovers in Russia the temperature was as low as -20 degree Celsius. And while flying over the ocean, I saw it was frozen! The engine had frozen and wouldn’t work. I had to pick the ice with a screwdriver, before warming it up. And I had had to take off my gloves for all that, and I could feel the chill. I also encountered ash cloud from an active volcano in Russia and sandstorm while flying over Qatar.

How was your experience in India?

It was absolutely amazing!! I love India the culture and the history of your great country. Especially my visit of Calcutta where I had a rare pleasure of having a boat ride on the River Ganges. In that moment I found a moment of peace.

What advice would like to give the special need children who want to make it big in life?

Watch Taare Zameen Par, It’s a lovely movie and it spoke to me in a special way. I found this quote very helpful in my journey “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Find your dream and never give up and some day you will make it happen!

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