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5-year-old flies plane in China

10:56 PM, Sep 4, 2013   |    comments
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(CBS News)-- Five-year-old Duoduo may have become the youngest person to fly a plane. But he is more famous in China for his father, who has sparked controversy with his own brand of discipline.

Last Saturday (August 31), He Liesheng from eastern China sent his young son, whose real name is He Yide, flying in a light plane not far from Beijing, the latest in a series of potentially dangerous public stunts.

Duoduo had trained for 20 days at the flying club in Hebei Province, and was accompanied by an instructor during Saturday's flight that was attended by Chinese media.

Duoduo, who only just became tall enough to reach the pedals in the cockpit, said he enjoyed himself.

"I quite like it, because driving a plane is very exciting and it's much more exciting to sit in the front instead of the back. Also, the level of danger in the front is higher than in the back. The person in the front has to drive, and it's really fun," he told online media and others.

He Liesheng said his family had applied for the flight to be registered as a new Guinness World Record, but had not yet had confirmation.

"In the process of flying, we always had this idea, we hoped Duoduo could fly out into the blue sky and set a new Guinness World Record. Because before, a young girl from the United Kingdom set the record at the age of ten under the training of a coach. We hoped to bring this record forward by five years," he told media.

He calls himself "Eagle Dad" and has promoted his own brand of tough parenting that he hopes will prepare his son for what he says is a cruel world.

Like Chinese American "Tiger mother" Amy Chua, he has written his own book expounding his parenting philosophy.

"'Eagle Education' includes the qualities of bravery, morality, emotion and strength. Bravery is an important part of 'Eagle Education.' Today's flight realises this principle. After living here for 20 days, Duoduo has really become much braver," he said.

But not everyone is convinced.

He created a storm last year when a video of him making Duoduo, then four, run nearly naked in the snow while on holiday in New York went viral on the internet, leading to talk about whether He was teaching toughness or being abusive.

Last summer, he encountered more criticism for forcing Duoduo to sail a dinghy single-handed.

Later, he lead Duoduo, still aged four, up Japan's Mount Fuji.

The director of the Beijing Youth League and Psychological Counselling Centre, Zong Chunshan, says his parenting style risks leaving lasting scars.

"At different ages, a child's development and physical characteristics have their own laws of maturity and what they can withstand. So people should respect these laws of development, and they should not say 'I think (the child) should be like this and therefore I will educator him or her accordingly'. Doing this is very likely to harm the child in the name of love," he said.

Nonetheless, 'Eagle Dad' has won praise form some in China who feel that only children created by the one-child policy are being spoilt and given little independence.

In 2011, Amy Chua's "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" similarly prompted furious debate about ultra-strict parenting.

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