A 17-year-old British-Belgian boy has become the youngest person to fly solo around the world on a five-month journey that has seen him face monsoons, scorching heat, and frustrating bureaucracy.
Mack Rutherford upon landing at an airport near the Bulgarian capital Sofia, after covering a distance of 54,124 km, was met with warm applause and cheers of welcome.
Mack got off his plane from the same location from which he drove it on March 23 from Bulgaria to begin his journey around the world in an ultralight plane, weighing only 325 kilograms and flying at speeds of 299 kilometers per hour.
He arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria, after a five-month journey that included 52 countries.
His achievement was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records, which handed him two certificates upon landing, becoming the youngest person (male) to circumnavigate the world by plane alone, and the youngest person (male) to circumnavigate the world in a light plane alone.
“At many stages of the journey it was easy for me to give up, but I continued to advance even when it seemed I would not be able to complete it,” said Rutherford in a video.
“It is great to be here again and to achieve my goal, it took a little longer than I would have liked but it was a very exciting and very enjoyable journey and I don’t regret it at all,” he added.
Mack Rutherford became the youngest solo traveler to take the title from Travis Ludlow, who was 18 when he completed his attempt in 2021.
He is now also the youngest passenger around the world on a light plane, a title previously held by his sister Zara, who completed her round-the-world trip in January 2022.
Rutherford’s journey was full of many challenges, including a 10-hour flight from Japan across the Pacific Ocean to the uninhabited US island of Attu in bad weather.
In Sudan, his solar power system fell due to high temperatures that melted the glue that held it, and in India rainwater flooded the main fuel tanks of his plane and a number of documents that were with him.
It is worth noting that Sam Rutherford, the father of Malik is a professional ferry pilot, and his mother, Beatrice, is a private pilot.
Inspired by his flying family, the teenager was just 15 years old when he got his first pilot’s license, becoming the youngest pilot in the world.