A 17-year-old pilot has become the youngest person to fly alone around the world.
Mack Rutherford, who holds British and Belgian citizenship, completed his trip Wednesday. He landed his small plane in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia. That is also where he started his trip five months ago.
Rutherford, who turned 17 during his trip, broke the Guinness World Record for youngest male to fly around the world. That record had been held by Travis Ludlow of Britain. Ludlow was 18 when he made his flight around the world last year.
Rutherford also became the youngest person to fly around the world in an ultralight plane. His sister, Zara, finished her own around-the-world flight in January at age 19. Until Wednesday, she held the ultralight record. Zara also set the record as the youngest woman to fly alone around the world.
His trip, which began March 23, took Rutherford through 52 countries across five continents. To set a mark recognized by the Guinness World Records, he crossed the equator twice.
Rutherford was born into a family of flyers. He earned his pilot’s license in 2020, becoming the youngest pilot in the world at the age of 15.
His trip around the world started in Sofia on a plane owned by the internet company ICDSoft. The ultralight plane, called Shark, can travel at the speed of 300 kilometers per hour. Normally a two-seater, the plane was changed for his long trip by replacing the second seat with an extra fuel container.
Rutherford first planned to make the trip in three months. But it lasted longer because of several barriers, including rainstorms, sandstorms and extreme heat. Most of the delays were caused by waits to get permits and other documents required for keeping with the flight plan.
The flight took him through Africa and the Gulf area to India, China, South Korea, and Japan. He crossed the northern Pacific and landed after 10 straight hours in the air on a volcanic island near the Bering Strait.
From there, he headed to Alaska and down the West Coast of the United States to Mexico. Then he headed north again along the U.S. East Coast to Canada, and across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.
On Wednesday, a huge crowd of people welcomed Rutherford and celebrated his achievements.
His father, Sam Rutherford, said he was extremely happy and proud of his children’s achievements. He told reporters that such an event helps show other children they should follow their dreams.
His sister, Zara, said she kept in close touch with her younger brother during his flight.
“While he was flying, I constantly tried to keep in touch and help him,” she said. “Our parents called him every day, and I joined in those conversations. I gave him advice on the route, on the flight, so that I could be useful to him.”
I’m Ashley Thompson.
Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on The Associated Press news report.
Words in This Story
ultralight - adj. extremely lightweight
replace - v. to put something new in place of
achievement - n. the state or condition of accomplishing something
constantly - adv. happening all the time
conversation - n. talk between two people or a small group