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Youngest Pilot to Fly Around the World Solo Uses Cirrus SR22

Australian teen pilot Lachlan Smart in his Cirrus SR22, attempting to fly around the world solo at a record setting young age of 18.
Lachlan Smart in his Cirrus SR22 during his world record setting journey

Australian teenager Lachlan Smart, at age 18, has set a new World Record as the youngest pilot to fly around the world solo in a single-engine aircraft. The journey, which took him to 24 airfields in 15 different countries took him almost two months to complete.

Speaking to the Brisbane Times, Smart said that “The support I have received from family, friends, the local Sunshine Coast council and community and people around the world that I have never even met has been incredible from the first moment we spoke about this journey.” He added that it was “excellent to be back on familiar territory with familiar faces.

Highlights of the trip for Smart included visiting family during a stop in England, flying over the white cliffs of Dover, and, according to ABC Australia, having the chance to fly again with his flight instructor. “I was joined in the sky for a little bit by my old chief flying instructor who taught me how to fly and really started my aviation career off all toughest so it was very special to come back with him,” Smart said.

While attempting to fly around the world, Smart faced a variety of difficulties. He encountered “horrendous weather” flying over the Pacific, including being delayed by a Hurricane while attempting to fly between Hawaii and California. Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Smart said that while he didn’t encounter any major equipment failures, but he did run into trouble with air traffic control in Indonesia, saying their instructions would have ended his flight in disaster. “I stuck to my training pretty well and when I saw what they were going to try and send me through I thought, ‘They’ll be scraping me off the side of a mountain if I go that way.’

According to Smart, “The whole reason I did this trip was to hopefully motivate other people to achieve great things as well.

After You Fly Around the World, What’s Next?

Smart is currently studying to earn a business and aviation degree, but he says he’s not interested in being a commercial pilot. He says the repetitive nature of flying the same routes and plans would eventually wear out the magic of aviation for him, and instead, “I’d like to get into executive flying and flying VIPS around in small jets.”

For now, however, Smart’s immediate plan is to enjoy sleeping in his own bed, and spend some time catching up with family and friends.

For more information on Smart’s successful bid to fly around the world, and to read Smart’s entries during the journey, you can visit the Wings Around the World website.

The Details on Smart’s World Record Setting Solo Flight

What Did Smart Set the Record For?

The official Guinness World Record Smart will now hold is “Youngest Person to Circumnavigate by Aircraft, Solo.

How Old Was Lachlan Smart When He Set the Record?

At the time he set the record, smart was 18 years, seven months and 21 days old.

What Aircraft Did Smart Use?

Smart used a Cirrus SR22. The aircraft was outfitted with the standard IO 550 engine and kept the CAPS parachute system intact.

How Was the Aircraft Modified?

The aircraft was custom fitted with a ferry tank that replaced the back seats and extended the plane’s flight time to about 15 hours.  According to Smart in a blog post on Wings Around the World, the system worked like this:

I use the left-hand tank for takeoff and use about half of that during the flight, and then switch to the right and keep topping that up. The weight of the fuel remaining in the left-hand side tank can then be used as a counterbalance for the extra fuel that is going in the right-hand side. It’s a safety measure from a weight and balance scenario, but also it’s safe to keep fuel in the left in case the pump in the right-hand side fails and I need to land the plane somewhere.

Who Was the Previous Record Holder?

The previous record holder was American Matt Guthmiller, who set the record when he was 19 years, 7 months, and 15 days old. He completed his circumnavigation flying from El, Cajon California, in a 1981 Beechcraft A36 Bonanza.

How Long Did the Circumnavigation Take Smart?

The journey took Smart 54 days.

How Far Did Smart Travel While Circling the Globe?

Smart flew an estimated 24,298 nautical miles (45,000 km, 27,961 miles).

How Many Stops Did Smart Make During the Trip?

Smart made 24 stops, in 15 different countries during his journey. Here is a complete list of his stops, in order:

From To
Sunshine Coast, Australia Nadi, Fiji
Nadi, Fiji Pago Pago, American Samoa
Pago Pago, American Samoa Christmas Island, Kiribati
Christmas Island, Kiribati Hilo, Hawaii, USA
Hilo, Hawaii, USA Hollister, CA, USA
Hollister, CA, USA North Las Vegas, NEV, USA
North Las Vegas, NEV, USA Fredericksburg, TX, USA
Fredericksburg, TX, USA Nashville (Smyrna), USA
Nashville (Smyrna), USA Niagara Falls, NY, USA
Niagara Falls, NY, USA St Johns Airport, St Johns, NL, Canada
St Johns Airport, St Johns, NL, Canada Santa Maria, Azores, Portugal
Santa Maria, Azores, Portugal Biggin Hill, UK
Biggin Hill, UK Cannes, France
Cannes, France Iraklion Airport, Crete
Iraklion Airport, Crete Hurghada, Egypt
Hurghada, Egypt Muscat International Airport, Oman
Muscat International Airport, Oman Bandaranaike International Airport, Sri Lanka
Bandaranaike International Airport, Sri Lanka Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah-Subang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah-Subang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport, Jakarta, Indonesia
Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport, Jakarta, Indonesia Broome International Airport, Australia
Broome International Airport, Australia Darwin International Airport, Australia
Darwin International Airport, Australia Longreach, Australia
Longreach, Australia Bundaberg, Australia
Bundaberg, Australia Sunshine Coast, Australia

What Was the Longest Leg of Smart’s Journey?

The longest leg was roughly 13.5 hours, and it was the flight between Hawaii and California.

Featured Image: Wings Around the World / Facebook

Anders Clark
Anders Clark was introduced to aviation a few short years ago, and has developed an interest in aviation history and what the future of aviation will bring. A writer and editor, Anders enjoys researching and sharing the stories of aviation.