Teen pilot aims to break sister’s record on solo around-the-world flight

  • Mack Rutherford began his attempt to become the youngest person to fly across the world solo on Wednesday
  • He hopes to complete the trip in time to study for his A-level school exams
Agence France-Presse |

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Mack Rutherford sets off from Bulgaria and will stop in a number of different countries, including India, Japan, Mexico and Greenland. Photo: Reuters

A teenage pilot took off Wednesday determined to go one better than his record-breaking sister by becoming the youngest person to fly solo around the world.

Mack Rutherford’s big sister Zara, 19, became the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe in January.

And she was in Radomir, Bulgaria to wave off her 16-year-old brother as he took to the air with his teddy bear.

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The remarkable British-Belgian family boasts four generations of fliers, and Mack got his first taste of being at the controls when he was just seven.

“You do not have to be 18 to do something special,” he told reporters before taking off, with his teddy sporting a Biggles-like scarf.

While Zara took five months to go around the world because of bad weather, Mack aims to do the trip in two or three months and be back in time to carry on studying for his A-level school exams.

Zara Rutherford, set a world record in January as the youngest woman to fly solo around the world; the journey covered 31 countries across five continents. Photo: Reuters

Rutherford hopes to beat the current record held by 18-year-old Briton Travis Ludlow, who completed the feat in just over six weeks last year.

But the Russian invasion of Ukraine means that Rutherford has had to modify his itinerary.

Instead of flying over Russia and Central Asia he is having to follow a more southerly course, “going east through Pakistan, India, China, South Korea, Japan and then straight over to the US,” he said.

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Rutherford said the biggest challenge is likely to come from the long stretches over the oceans. “My longest one is about eight hours so if something goes wrong, I need to make sure to do something quickly.”

But his big sister has given him some tips, urging him to turn around and land if he cannot see his way through cloudy weather in his Shark ultralight plane.

The teenager said he was most excited about flying over the Sahara desert and small paradise islands. “I hope to inspire as many people as possible If just one person fulfils their dream it’s worth it,” he said.

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