German aviators stop in Cambodia on world trip

13th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

13 August 2007, Phnom Penh (dpa) - Two German aviators of advancing years but with childhood dreams intact wrapped up a visit to Cambodia Sunday, after making humanitarian jaunts to help the country's children.

13 August 2007

Phnom Penh (dpa) - Two German aviators of advancing years but with childhood dreams intact wrapped up a visit to Cambodia Sunday, after making humanitarian jaunts to help the country's children.

Uwe Thomas Carstensen, 60, and co-pilot Hans Christian Albertsen, 59, first met as schoolboys in their native Schlesweig-Holstein state.

More than half a century later, the windmill engineer and the builder decided that they had put aside their childish dreams for long enough, and hatched a plan to fly around the world in just 80 days in a tiny Cessna 206, stopping at 30 destinations.

"We both enjoy life and love flying around Germany and Europe. We worked out that when you break this journey up into legs of 1,200 nautical miles, it is possible to fly around the entire world," Carstensen said in an interview shortly after arriving from Malaysia.

"We thought it was a fantastic idea. A great chance to taste all the different cultures and experiences the world has to offer."

Unlike Carstensen, his wife Marie does not like flying, so to ease the separation he named his single-engine Cessna after her and painted the plane with red and green roses.

The pair's trip to Cambodia, which ended Sunday when they departed for Hong Kong and later Taiwan, was "a real eye opener," according to Carstensen. They traveled outside the capital to meet school children and talk with them about the dangers of drug use and HIV/AIDS.

Cambodia still has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infections in the region.

"When we dreamed this up, we knew we wanted to do something that was fun and challenging for us, but also helped other people and helped us to understand the places we were traveling through a little bit better," Carstensen explained.

Their landing at Phnom Penh International Airport last Friday created much merriment amongst locals, who watched in amazement as the pilots, both grandfathers, leapt from the tiny plane and effortlessly pushed it across the tarmac themselves.

Although exotic destinations such as Turkey, Dubai, Pakistan, Burma and Australia are behind them, countries including Japan, Alaska and Greenland still lie ahead before their scheduled return to Germany on September 13, and Carstensen will visit his 88-year-old father in Vancouver, Canada, on the way.

"This has been a wonderful experience, but it will also be very nice for both of us when we get home and we can be with our families again," Carstensen said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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