An Australian teenager has become the youngest person to fly solo around the world in a single- engine aircraft, completing the 45,000-kilometre trip in almost two months.
Lachlan Smart touched down on the Sunshine Coast at Maroochydore yesterday, having departed the same airstrip on July 4.
Smart, who is 18 years, seven months and 21 days, stopped in 24 locations and 15 countries on his way to taking the Guinness world record from American Matt
Guthmiller, who completed his circumnavigation when he was 19 years, seven months and 15 days, the Australian Associated Press reported.
Smart started his last leg from Bundaberg, where he had completed much of his flight training since the dream of taking on the record breaking flight began two-and-a-half years ago.
“What a welcome…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 said.
Smart was considerably less complimentary about Indonesia’s traffic control, however, saying he would have been scraped off the side of an Indonesian mountain had he obeyed local traffic controllers.
“There were no major failures of equipment…but I did have trouble with air traffic control coming out of Indonesia. They would have run me into a mountain if I had gone with their instructions,” he said.
During his expedition, Smart said some of his highlights were visiting relatives in England, flying over the white cliffs of Dover and partying on a Cannes beach in France.
“It was a lot of fun all the way around,” he told Brisbane Times.
But it was not all smooth sailing for Smart, with dangerous weather conditions, lack of support from airport staff and the language barrier hindering his progress.
He encountered heavy storms over the Pacific and a hurricane between California and Hawaii delayed him for 24 hours, but he said “there was not anything I could not overcome”.
Upon his arrival at Maroochydore Airport, Smart was greeted by a crowd of hundreds, including his friends and family. Smart’s travel included more than a week’s break visiting family and sightseeing in London.