A 17-year-old pilot on Wednesday became the youngest person to fly solo around the world in a small plane.
Mack Rutherford, who is Belgian and British, landed in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he began his journey five months ago. Rutherford broke two Guinness World Records: The youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo, as well as the youngest person to fly around the world in an ultralight aircraft.
“I’m very happy to have been able to complete my five month journey around the world, and I’m back in Sofia safely and successfully,” the teenager said in a video after landing. “It took a bit longer than it was supposed to … but everything is completely fine.”
Rutherford was 16 years old when he began his journey on March 23, setting off on an adventure that spanned dozens of countries over five continents. The flight ― which has been documented live online ― lasted 142 days and covered 33,631 miles in the air, according to his Facebook page. Rutherford registered 68 takeoffs and landings, with the highest altitude having been reached in Mexico at 12,500 feet.
The teenager originally planned for the trip to last about three months, however hurdles like extreme weather and complicated permit processes resulted in a longer flight. Rutherford flew a Shark Aero, the same kind of microlight plane his sister Zara Rutherford flew when she set the world record in January as the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe solo at 19.
“I’m definitely going to miss flying, but also with this journey I’m trying to show that young people can make a difference,” Mack Rutherford said. “You don’t have to be 18 to do something special. Just follow your dreams, and they’ll eventually come true.”