After a stopover in Dubai, 17-year-old pilot sets record for solo flight around the world

Mack Rutherford landed in the emirate on June 3

by Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Wed 24 Aug 2022, 7:33 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Aug 2022, 10:37 AM

Mack Rutherford, a British-Belgian 17-year-old, has broken the world record for the youngest person to fly solo worldwide.

The Guinness Book of World Records (GWR) awarded him the record completion certificate and shared the news on its official social media handles late on Wednesday night.

Rutherford touched down in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, where his journey began, according to Rutherford’s official website and GWR. Mack – nicknamed Mack Solo – had departed from the same city on March 23, 2022, six months prior, to pursue his dream of achieving the world record.

Like his sister Zara Rutherford, who broke two aviation records earlier this year, Mack faced the challenge alone.

According to his website, Rutherford’s route spanned 52 countries across five continents on a specially prepared ultralight Shark aircraft with a cruising speed reaching 300 km/h.

Born in June 2005 to Belgian and British parents, when Mack set out on his record-breaking flight, he was only 16. He celebrated his 17th birthday on the plane that would deliver him two Guinness World Record titles, previously held by his sister Zara.

The records he broke are the youngest person to circumnavigate the world by aircraft solo (male) and the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe by microlight solo (male).

His website tracked his journey, showing he set off from Bulgaria towards the Mediterranean, then through the Sahara, then through the Middle East, and then East Asia.

In an earlier interview with Khaleej Times, when Mack stopped in Dubai on June 3, Mack said, “I’m thrilled to be here. It’s amazing to see the welcome they’ve given me here in Dubai.”

The teenager has already overcome several impediments he navigated with his calm demeanour and focus.

“There was a bit of poor visibility over the Sahara. It’s all the dust and sand that go into the air, which makes it quite difficult. I had some high mountains with quite low clouds over Nairobi and Antananarivo, which made it quite difficult. Still, if you’re concentrating, it is wonderful,” said the teenager, who loves music, especially while dealing with stressful situations.

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.

Initially planned to take up to three months, the trip lasted longer because of several unexpected obstacles along his way, including monsoon rains, sandstorms and extreme heat.

But most of the delays were caused by waits to obtain permits and other documents required for further flight or having to alter the scheduled route if they were rejected.

(With input from agencies)


Dhanusha Gokulan
Dhanusha Gokulan

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