Flying global, landing with scenes & skeletons

By Pradeep Silwal

KATHMANDU, July 11 - Have you ever dreamt of flying all over the world alone in an aeroplane? Well, for ordinary folks—dreams are just that— dreams. But for Tom Claytor, an American bush pilot, sky is not the limit.
Claytor landed in Kathmandu this week after flying 100,000 miles and visiting 50 countries since he started his journey from his home town Philadelphia, USA in December 1990.
Kathmandu is only a stop over in his seven continent odyssey flying in a single engine Cessna-180 aeroplane, which can fly 15 hours and cover 3600 km in one go. He has already covered four continents in seven years—North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
He was in Pakistan and India before he landed in Kathmandu. He plans to fly to Australia, South America and Antarctica before he returns home where he has father, mother, two brothers and a sister.
The plane which he has named Timmissartok, a word taken from Greenland language which means to fly like a bird, serves Claytor as his home and office besides being a mode of transport. He pitches his tent beneath the plane when he has nowhere to go for a rest. So, what keeps this extra-ordinary man so restless?
The 34-year-old American wants to make a history by flying to all the seven continents in a single engine plane with the aim of getting an entry into the Guinness book of world records. Besides these, he makes films for National Geographic "Explorer Journal", and also takes photographs.
He is also working on a book "The Wisdom of the Wilderness."
"I am on a journey to visit wilderness. I want to learn from the people who live close to nature," Claytor says.
Asked why he chose Nepal as a stopover, he said: "I choose countries where people live close to nature. I have chosen Nepal as an inspiration for my next painting."
Claytor has decided to take photographs of Himalayas. He has already taken photographs of Congo river and Sahara desert which he commissioned to a painter for reproduction. The paintings with the added figure of his plane appears on post cards.
Claytor has a mind of exploring the whole of Nepal in his month-long stay here. "Now I’m excited to explore Nepal. I want to make Nepal a part of my journey to share with people all over the world, the extrovert American pilot says.
His brother joined him in Kathmandu a day after he landed here. "Warren, my little brother wanted to meet me in a beautiful place and he chose Nepal," he says.
A loner in the wide world, Claytor has gathered bagfuls of strange experiences. One of them was in Liberia where he landed in May 1992. He saw 20,000 human skeletons on the runway.
"A soldier told me," says Clayton, "during the war we ate people not because we were hungry, but we were scared and if you ate your enemy it makes you strong."
In Algeria, he was detained by the military because they thought that bush pilot means the pilot for then president George Bush, who was hated in the Muslim world at the time of Gulf War. "Later they understood the meaning and released me," says Claytor with a smile.
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