Talk about a sibling rivalry. A 16-year-old pilot will attempt to become the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe in an airplane solo shortly after his sister became the youngest woman to accomplish the feat at 19. The teenager says he’s “pretty confident” his name will join his sister in the record books very soon.
Mack Rutherford will take off on March 17 from Bulgaria, barring no complications, the New York Post reported. The English schoolboy said he can’t wait to see the world from his ultra-light airplane. He named the Sahara Desert, the Congolese jungle, and New York City as some of the locations he most wants to see.
“It’s really exciting to think that really soon I’m going to do something incredible,” he told Reuters. He expects the trip to take about three months.
Despite still being a teenager, Rutherford said he knew he wanted to fly ever since he was a kid. Well, a younger kid. Both of his parents are pilots, and they would often take their kids with them on trips.
“The first time I actually touched the controls and flew was when I was 7,” he said. “… Since then, my passion has grown.”
Mark’s 19-year-old sister Zara returned from her trip around the world last month. She’s the youngest woman to ever complete the task, and the youngest to do it in a microplane. Mack will claim the latter if he can complete his trip.
“He’s a great pilot, and I know he’s able to do this,” she told Reuters.
Zara took off from Belgium in August, CNN said. Her 41-country, 52,000-mile flight took her nearly five months. Almost twice as long as she’d planned.
Travis Ludlow last year set the record for the youngest person to circumnavigate the planet in an airplane at 18.
Teen Pilot Wants to Inspire Young People to Change the World
While most kids his age have to beg to borrow the car, Mack Rutherford somehow talked his parents into letting him undertake such a difficult mission. Though, it took some convincing.
“When Mack first told us that he wanted to fly across the world, I said: ‘No way.’ I didn’t want to hear about it because I thought he was too young,” his mom, Beatrice De Smet, told The Guardian. She relented after he wrote her a letter explaining his desire to claim the record. But as an aviator herself, De Smet gave him some advice: listen to your gut.
“Never go if you don’t feel confident, for whatever reason,” she said.
Mack Rutherford said his goal – aside from the record — is to show other teenagers that the world is theirs if they will work for it.
“I want to show that young people can make a difference,” he said, “… that you don’t have to be an adult to do incredible things.”