17-year-old Mack Rutherford becomes youngest pilot to fly solo round the world
First Zara Rutherford became the youngest woman to circumnavigate the world solo in her light aircraft at the start of 2022. Now her brother, Mack Rutherford, has followed in her footsteps by becoming the youngest pilot to fly around the world solo.
Mack Rutherford departed Sofia (SOF) in Bulgaria on March 23, 2022 when he was 16 and landed back at the same airport on August 24, 2022, after turning 17 during the journey.
His sister Zara presented him with the world record certificate after he landed in SOF on his final leg from Bratislava (BTS).
“I’m very happy to be here after five long months, but an extremely fun and cool five months,” Mack said in an interview streamed by sponsor ICDSoft after he touched down. “It took a bit longer than I had hoped for, but it was a very exciting and interesting trip, and I don’t regret going on it.”
Mack said it was almost a shame the trip was over. “It’s a bit of mixed feelings, because I’m still enjoying the plane hugely, I still love flying and for my trip to be at an end now is equally exciting and frustrating.”
Asked about difficulties, he said he had a bit of difficulty over mountains near Sofia due to clouds but had come across various issues throughout the trip. “Just follow your dreams,” he urged. “There were many points in my journey where it would have been easy to give up… but I kept going. Basically, just work hard and push forward with your dreams, no matter how old you are.”
Mack and Zara Rutherford. Credit: Jo Vlieghe
But is there sibling rivalry? “I got the entire idea from my sister Zara,” Mack admitted. “I have always loved flying, but it never crossed my mind to fly round the world.”
Crossing 30 countries and four continents, the British-Belgian teenager completed the feat in a Shark high-performance, ultra-light aircraft, capable of cruising at 300 kilometers per hour. He avoided Russian airspace on his route, which is commonly used by round-the-world pilots.
His first antipodal stop was Mauritius, which he reached on May 27, and his second was Isla Socorro in Mexico, on August 9.
The previous record was held by Travis Ludlow, who completed his round the world trip at the age of 18 years and 5 months in 2021. Mack was aged 17 years, 2 months and 2 days when he achieved the record, breaking the previous record by roughly 1 year and three months.
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