What were you doing when you were 17? I was deep in my Red Hot Chili Peppers phase and dreaming of becoming an architect or award-winning cocktail bartender. Now, one 17-year-old has put all our teenage activities and dreams to shame by becoming the youngest person to fly solo around the world, and broke his sister’s record in the process.
British-Belgian teenager Mack Rutherford set off from Sofia in Bulgaria aboard a Shark Aero microlight airplane on March 23. After covering 33,631 miles, he landed back at the same site 154 days later becoming the youngest person to fly solo around the world, according to Reuters.
While traversing 30 countries to set the new record, Rutherford also broke a record that was previously held by his sister Zara when he became the youngest person to cross the globe in a microlight. Zara Rutherford completed the journey in January this year.
“Rutherford’s journey took longer than planned due to permit delays that forced him to alter his route twice and fly over Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, North America and back to Europe.
“His favorite flyovers ranged from the Sahara Desert to Greenland and Iceland. But his trip was also full with challenges, like a 10-hour flight from Japan across the Pacific Ocean to the uninhabited U.S. Attu Island during bad weather.”
In an interview with the news site, Rutherford said: “Amazing to finally be here again and to have done my goal.
“It took a little bit longer than I had hoped for, but it was [a] very exciting, very interesting trip and I don’t regret at all going on it.”
Rutherford’s journey around the world wasn’t trouble free. Extreme weather affected his route and craft. According to Reuters:
“In Sudan, his solar panel system fell down because the heat melted the glue maintaining it in place combined with extreme haze. In India, monsoon rains entered his main fuel tanks and soaked his aircraft including some documents on board.”
The previous pilot to hold the record for the youngest person to fly solo around the world was Travis Ludlow, who completed the journey last year when they were 18.