Mack Rutherford: British pilot, 17, aims to be youngest person to fly around the world

A teenage daredevil who landed a plane in Aberdeen is now aiming to be the proud owner of two Guinness World Records, including being the youngest person to fly around the world – at just 17.

Mack Rutherford landed in Scotland’s north east yesterday ahead of the final leg of his attempt to beat the Guinness World Record for the youngest person to fly around the world solo in a small plane.

Rutherford arrived after a challenging 11-hour flight across the dangerous Bering Sea. His journey took longer than expected and was filled with weather, bureaucratic and technical challenges.

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Before setting off he said: “There are many people of my age who do amazing things; often few people know about them. Together we can show that young people make a difference.”

Mack Rutherford hopes to be the youngest pilot to circumnavigate the Earth
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British-Belgian born Rutherford and his team had to deal with recurrent permit and visa issues delaying his flights. He also faced monsoon rains which soaked his aircraft and some documents on board.

In addition, he has had to face sandstorms in Sudan, extreme heat in Dubai, airport closures in India and many technical issues. On one occasion, he had an electrical failure in the system that pumps his reserve fuel to the aircraft’s main tanks.

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After yesterday’s flight, Rutherford is now closing in on two Guinness World Records, as both the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo in an aircraft, and also the youngest person to circumnavigate the world in a microlight, a title currently held by his sister Zara.

Just like Zara, he is flying a Shark, one of the fastest ultralight aircraft in the world with a cruising speed reaching 300 km/h. The aircraft has been specially prepared for such a long journey and ICDSoft, a hosting company and Mack’s main sponsor is loaning him the plane.

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The Shark which is being flown by Mack Rutherford.

It all started on March 23, when Rutherford took off from Sofia, Bulgaria, and headed to Italy and Greece, where he had a longer stay while obtaining the necessary permits and documents required for further flight.

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From Greece, he flew to Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar and UAE where he stayed over a month waiting for a permit to enter Iran. He did not receive it, so he continued to Pakistan, India, Thailand and Vietnam. From South Korea he flew to Japan, Alaska, Mexico, Iceland, and Aberdeen before finishing his journey in Sofia.

Since the age of three, Rutherford has wanted to be a pilot. He qualified for his pilot licence in September 2020, at the time the youngest pilot in the world at the age of 15 years and two months.

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He was born into a family of aviators. His father Sam is a professional ferry pilot, and his mother Beatrice is a private pilot. His sister Zara is a private pilot.

He said: “I have been fortunate to have had a family that has been able to help me progress in my flying. But no matter what background you have, I believe it is never too early to work towards your dreams and you shouldn’t limit yourself by others’ expectations.”

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