17-year-old pilot becomes youngest person to fly solo around the world


A 17-year-old pilot became the youngest person to fly solo around the world after he landed on Wednesday in Bulgaria, where his journey began five months ago. Mack Rutherford, a dual Anglo-Belgian national, landed on an airstrip west of Sofia to complete his task and claim two Guinness World Records.

Born into a family of aviators, Rutherford qualified for his pilot’s license in 2020, which, at the time, made him the youngest pilot in the world at 15. In addition to becoming the youngest person to fly around the world alone, Rutherford is the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe in an ultralight aircraft. He said he hopes his achievement will inspire young people to pursue their dreams.

“Just follow your dreams, no matter how old you are. Work hard and move forward to achieve your goals,” he said after exiting the aircraft.

The journey began on March 23 and took Rutherford through 52 countries on five continents. He turned 17 during the trip. To establish a brand recognized by Guinness World Records, he crossed the Equator twice.

Initially planned to last up to three months, the trip took longer because of several unexpected obstacles along the way, including monsoon rains, sandstorms and extreme heat. But most of the delays were caused by waiting to obtain permits and other documents needed for new flights or having to change the scheduled route if they were rejected.

The route

The flight took him through Africa and the Gulf region to India, China, South Korea and Japan. It crossed the northern Pacific and landed after 10 uninterrupted hours in the air on a volcanic island near the Bering Strait. From there he went to Alaska and down the west coast of the United States to Mexico. Rutherford then headed north again along the east coast of the US to Canada and across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.

On Wednesday, a huge crowd of people had arrived at the airport to welcome Rutherford and celebrate his achievements. Among them were his three family members. Her father, Sam Rutherford, said he was extremely happy and proud of his children’s achievements. He told reporters that such an event is especially encouraging for children to follow their dreams and parents to support them in their efforts.

Sister Zara said she kept in close contact with her younger brother during their journey. “While he was flying, I was constantly trying to stay in touch and help him. Our parents called him every day and I participated in those conversations. I helped him on the route, on the flight, so I could be of use to him,” she said. .

Mack, for his part, said he will now focus on his education. “The next thing I’m going to do is go back to school and recover as much as I can,” he said.

family of records

Sister Zara herself had already made her own global flight in January, aged 19, and held the record for ultralight. On the other hand, Mack Rutherford took the age record from Britain’s Travis Ludlow, who was 18 when he flew solo around the world last year.

Mack and his sister flew in a Shark model plane, one of the fastest ultralight aircraft in the world, with a cruising speed of 300 km/h. Normally a two-seater, it was modified for its long journey, replacing the second seat with an extra tank of fuel.

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