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.”
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 official Guinness World Record Smart will now hold is “Youngest Person to Circumnavigate by Aircraft, Solo.”
At the time he set the record, smart was 18 years, seven months and 21 days old.
Smart used a Cirrus SR22. The aircraft was outfitted with the standard IO 550 engine and kept the CAPS parachute system intact.
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.”
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.
The journey took Smart 54 days.
Smart flew an estimated 24,298 nautical miles (45,000 km, 27,961 miles).
Smart made 24 stops, in 15 different countries during his journey. Here is a complete list of his stops, in order:
|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|
The longest leg was roughly 13.5 hours, and it was the flight between Hawaii and California.