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This young man may not be a household name (yet!), but he’s already in the record books. Captain James Anthony Tan is the youngest pilot – and first Malaysian – to fly solo around the world.

And he has experienced reading difficulties throughout his young life, leading to a dyslexia diagnosis.


When he was 21, he embarked on his expedition in a 30-year-old Cessna plane. He encountered severe thunderstorms when flying near Japan, had to use a screwdriver to break ice forming in his plane over the Bearing Straits, and almost lost control of the plan over Canada when multiple plane parts began to malfunction.

But in the end, he triumphed. During his mission, he covered 22,000 miles and 21 countries in just 50 days.

Despite not learning to read until age 9, Captain Tan has gone on to other entrepreneurial ventures in Malaysia, starting several of his own businesses.

And to whom does he credit his success? Well, growing up in a household of women with 3 older sisters, Tan once remarked in an interview:

“Mahatma Gandhi once said that women are the embodiment of sacrifice, and I believe this to be absolutely true!”

Sarah Forrest is a Programme Manager for the Easyread System, an online course for children struggling with reading, spelling, dyslexia, auditory processing and more.