A 17-year-old pilot made history on Wednesday when he landed in Bulgaria, where his voyage began five months earlier, and became the youngest person to fly solo around the globe in a small aircraft.
Mack Rutherford, a dual citizen of Belgium and the United Kingdom, landed on an airport runway west of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, to accomplish his mission and secure two Guinness World Records. Rutherford not only flew solo around the world at a young age, but he also flew a microlight plane around the world.
Rutherford has set a new world record
Rutherford expressed his hope that his success will encourage young people to follow their goals.
“Just follow your dreams, no matter how old you are – work hard and move forward to achieve your goals,” he said after he stepped out of the aircraft.
The previous ultralight record belonged to his sister Zara, who finished her own round-the-world journey in January at the age of 19. Travis Ludlow of Britain, who was 18 when he completed a solo flight around the world last year, lost the age record to Mack Rutherford.
The journey, which began on March 23, took Rutherford through 52 countries over five continents. He turned 17 during the trip. To set a mark recognized by the Guinness World Records, he crossed the equator twice.
Born into a family of aviators, Rutherford qualified for his pilot’s license in 2020, which at the time, made him the youngest pilot in the world at the age of 15.
His solo trip flying around the world kicked off in Bulgaria because his sponsor, the web hosting company ICDSoft, is headquartered in Sofia and loaned him the plane.
Rutherford, like his sister, piloted a Shark, one of the world’s fastest ultralight aircraft with a cruising speed of 300 kph (186 mph). It was originally a two-seater, but the second seat was swapped out for an additional gasoline tank to accommodate his lengthy voyage.
The journey, which was initially anticipated to take up to three months, took longer due to a number of unanticipated challenges along the road, including monsoon rains, sandstorms, and high temperatures.