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At a glance: Philippines

Flying boat carries hopes and dreams for children

© UNICEF New York/2005/Kun Li
Inspiring children and young people is one of the goals Captain Iren Dornier (2nd row, left) wants to achieve through his global tour with a vintage seaplane.

By Kun Li

NEW YORK, 27 August 2005 - Circling the Statue of Liberty, then touching down majestically on the Hudson River, a vintage seaplane arrives in New York City to pay tribute to an aviation pioneer, inspire young people and raise funds for UNICEF.

On this very day 74 years ago the German aircraft entrepreneur Claude Dornier landed on the Hudson with a 12-engine, all-metal flying boat, Dornier Do-X. At that time the vessel was the largest, heaviest, and most powerful aircraft in the world.

Piloting the restored seaplane Dornier 24-ATT on a global tour, Captain Iren Dornier is not only carrying on his grandfather’s legacy, but is also on a long-dreamt-of mission to bring a better life to the children of the Philippines.

“The Hudson River landing is very historically important for our family,” said Captain Iren Dornier. “My grandfather, Claude Dornier, who built the Do-X, landed on Hudson River in 1931. So it’s a great thing for our family and tradition.”

“We are not flying around the world just for fun; we want to do something better. What we are doing here is to assist UNICEF and to raise funds for UNICEF. I believe UNICEF - specifically in the Philippines - is doing an excellent job, and we want to assist them as much as possible.”

© UNICEF New York/2005/Kun Li
Piloting the restored seaplane Dornier 24-ATT on a global tour, Captain Iren Dornier lands on the Hudson River in New York City on 27 August.

A dream takes off

With the help of Filipino engineers, Captain Dornier was able to move the seaplane from a museum in Germany to the Philippines, and eventually restore it. “Without the Philippines, I probably would not have a mission for this aircraft. And I am very positive about the Philippines. It is a great country with great potential," remarked Captain Dornier, who later founded the Philippine domestic carrier South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR).

Since the tour took off from Manila in April 2004, Captain Dornier and his crew have flown the seaplane to more than 30 countries around the world, including Cambodia, Thailand, India, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, France, Iceland, Canada, and the United States. At each destination, the seaplane always inspires an overwhelming response from spectators.

Inspiring children and young people

“I am so excited to be here, and I think the seaplane is really amazing,” said 11-year-old Alberto Fedeli, a young spectator who just witnessed the landing on the Hudson. “I want to work for NASA when I grow up,” added Alberto.

“I really felt it was an amazing experience to see my uncle fly,” said 10-year-old Henry Dornier, nephew of Captain Dornier. “It’s just amazing! When I grow up, I want to be an engineer, too. And I also hope this event will help UNICEF, and the children.”

Captain Dornier hopes to raise $5 million through his tour to help UNICEF-supported programmes to promote education, protection and awareness in the Philippines. “Children and young people are our hope for tomorrow. I think it’s very important we share what we have - money, knowledge, happiness and fun. That’s exactly what I want to do and say with this action here,” said Captain Dornier.




27 August 2005:
UNICEF correspondent Kun Li covers the historic landing of a restored seaplane, piloted by Captain Iren Dornier, which helps raise funds for UNICEF.

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