British-Belgian teen pilot becomes youngest person to fly solo around the world - GulfToday

British-Belgian teen pilot becomes youngest person to fly solo around the world


Mack Rutherford waves after he landed in Sofia-West airport on Wednesday. AFP

Gulf Today Report

Mack Rutherford, 17, became the youngest pilot to circle the world solo in a small plane after landing in Bulgaria on Wednesday, where his journey began five months ago.

The British-Belgian with dual nationality landed on an airstrip in Sofia to complete the task and claim two Guinness World Records.

Besides being the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo, Rutherford is the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe in an ultralight aircraft.

Rutherford said he hopes his success will inspire young people to pursue their dreams.

"Follow your dreams, no matter how old you are, work hard and move forward to achieve your goals," he said after stepping off the plane.

His sister, Zara, who completed her world flight in January aged 19, previously held the ultralight record.

MackRutherford-WorldRecord Mack Rutherford holds his Guinness award plates after he landed in Sofia-West airport. AP

Mack Rutherford has taken the age record from Briton Travis Ludlow, who was 18 when he flew solo around the world last year.

The journey, which began March 23, took Rutherford through 52 countries on five continents. He turned 17 during the trip.

To establish a sign recognized by Guinness World Records, it crosses the equator twice.

Coming from a family of aviators, Rutherford obtained his pilot's license in 2020, which made him the youngest pilot in the world at the age of 15 at the time. His solo trip around the world started in Bulgaria because his sponsor, the web hosting company ICDSoft, is based in Sofia and lent him the plane.

MackRutherford-Mother Mack Rutherford is congratulated by his mother after landing at Sofia West airport. AFP

Like her sister, Rutherford flew a Shark, one of the fastest ultralights in the world with a cruising speed of up to 300 km/h (186 mph).

Normally a two-seater, it was modified for its long journey by replacing the second seat with an additional fuel tank.

Initially planned to take up to three months, the trip lasted longer because of several unexpected obstacles in its path, including monsoon rains, sandstorms, and extreme heat. 

MackRutherford-solopilot Mack Rutherford holds waves after he landed in Sofia-West airport. AP

But most of the delays were caused by waiting for permits and other documents necessary for a later flight or having to change the planned itinerary if they have been refused.

He flew into Africa, and the Gulf region to India, China, South Korea and Japan. He crossed the North Pacific and landed after 10 continuous hours in the air on a volcanic island near the Bering Strait. From there he headed to Alaska and along the west coast of the United States to Mexico.

Rutherford then headed north again along the United States East Coast to Canada and across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.

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