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The five-year-old pilot

Duoduo posing before taking flight/ The Star

Publication Date : 13-09-2013

 

At only 5-and-a-half years of age, a Chinese boy from Nanjing has flown his own aircraft

 

Can you remember what you did when you were five-and-a-half-years-old?

I can’t, but I guess I spent a lot of time playing Barbie dolls and kicking up a fuss whenever it was time to go to kindergarten.

Duoduo, a boy from Nanjing, will put many of us to shame with the list of impressive feats he has accomplished at such a young age.

He has scaled Mount Fuji in Japan, sailed solo in a tiny vessel during the Qingdao International Sailing Week and most recently, flew an aircraft over the Beijing Wild Animal Park.

Duoduo, whose real name is He Yide, came into the limelight last year when a video of him running in a snow-covered New York street went viral on the Internet.

He was clad only in a pair of yellow underpants and sneakers.

His father He Shenglie, who recorded the video, ordered him to run and do push-ups despite his pitiful pleas for a hug.

Duoduo has since been labelled “the boy who ran naked”, while the Senior He earned the moniker Eagle Dad (or “Ying Ba” in Chinese) for his parenting style.

He said that he took inspiration from eagles, which train their eaglets to fly by dropping them off a cliff.

He added that Duoduo, who was prematurely born, was a weak child.

To help Duoduo catch up with his physical and mental development, He created a special methodology to unlock his potential.

The missions He planned were challenging even for adults, and yet he signed Duoduo up for them with the aim of building his stamina and developing his courage.

In an interview with The Star, He said he grew up with strict guardians as well. Looking back now, He said he was thankful for his upbringing.

“I was raised by my relatives. I had to practise calligraphy and painting, learn the abacus and exercise every day. If my performance was not up to their expectations, I would be punished,” he said.

As a kid, He said he held resentments against his relatives, but the negative emotions turned into gratitude when he grew up.

“During my seven-year career as a secondary school teacher, I began to realise that my relatives meant well.

“I started my own business later and had them to thank for my concentration, creativity, judgment skills and good health,” He said.

He’s parenting methods have received mixed reviews from the public.

Some criticised him for pushing Duoduo too hard. They said He's extreme methods would have a negative impact on Duoduo in the long run. But others admired He for his innovative parenting style.

A Weibo user said, “Eagle Dad has put in a lot of effort to ensure that Duoduo tries his hands on many different activities. This education style should be promoted.”

To those who disagreed with his heavy-handed child rearing methods, He says, “Educating kids is like opening locks. Each lock can only be opened with the right key.

The way we bring up our children are determined by our family’s environment and the children’s condition.”

He stressed that he did not embark on the journey to gain fame.

Flying the aircraft, he added, taught Duoduo more than just to bravely accept challenges.

“It also instilled the concept of abiding by rules in him,” He said.

The aircraft that Duoduo piloted was a Bee 3 ultra-light aircraft, which weighs 100kg.

In videos of his flying feat, Duoduo sported a typical Chinese boy hairdo – bald except for a patch of hair on the top of his forehead.

He sent the aircraft soaring into the sky confidently, leaving yellow and red trails in the sky.

“I like flying because it’s challenging. I was a little afraid as I was worried that the aircraft would drop from the sky if it ran out of petrol,” he said after landing. Duoduo’s attempt might earn him the recognition as the world’s youngest pilot.

To teach Duoduo about financial responsibility, He makes Duoduo sell newspapers and magazines on the weekends. Duoduo has to face the customers himself while He kept an eye on him from a distance.

What does He envision Duoduo to be in the future?

“I hope he will become an entrepreneur. No, I do not want him to take over my business but start his own,” he said.

 

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