17 year old pilot becomes youngest to fly around the world solo (photos)
Mack Rutherford, a 17 year old teenager has become the become the youngest person to fly solo around the world in a small aircraft.
Mack Rutherford landed at Sofia in Bulgaria, after a five-month journey across 52 countries.The trip took him through Europe, Asia, Africa, the US, across two oceans, with his plane touching down in the UK at Wick in Scotland and departing from London’s Biggin Hill Airport earlier this week.
Along the way, Mack, who is British-Belgian, encountered sandstorms in Sudan and spent the night on an uninhabited Pacific island.
After completing the feat on Wednesday, August 24, Mack encouraged others to “follow your dreams, no matter how old you are”.
“Work hard and move forward to achieve your goals”, he added.
The previous record holder for flying solo was British pilot Travis Ludlow, who was 18 years when he completed his journey last year.
Mark’s elder sister Zara is the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.
She completed her own journey in January this year and disclosed that she had “given him advice on the route” and she travelled to greet Mack as he returned to the starting point of his trip.
Mack, comes from a family of aviators. He set off from the Bulgarian capital on 23 March, experiencing extreme heat in Dubai and unexpected airport closures in India.
Mark also said he had slept in a shed beside a runway on an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean after a “hairy moment” passing through through rain and low cloud.
In an earlier interview with CNN while he was part of the way through his journey, Mack described some of the beautiful places he was able to fly past, from wildlife in national parks in Kenya to the New York City skyline.
He added always having “something I can look at” helped him maintain focus in the low-altitude flights – which took up to 11 hours at a time.
Asked what his plans for the future were, Mack said: “I’m going to keep flying. I’m thinking of something like the air force, but I’m nowhere 100% sure on anything.
“After I finish this I’ve just got to focus on school and try and catch up as much as I can.”
With the feat he has now broken two Guinness World Records – becoming the youngest person to fly around the world solo, as well as the youngest to circumnavigate the globe in a microlight plane.
The teenager flew a Shark – a high-performance ultralight aircraft which can hit a cruising speed of around 186mph (300km/h).
His sister Zara said that she was “constantly” trying to keep in touch and assist her brother while he was in the air.
“Our parents called him every day, and I joined in those conversations.
“I gave him advice on the route, on the flight, so that I could be useful to him.”
Mack has previously said he wanted to be a pilot since the age of three and he achieved the feat in September 2020 when he qualified for his licence aged 15.
His father Sam Rutherford is a professional ferry pilot, while his mother Beatrice is a private pilot.