On March 23, 2022, Mack Rutherford, a 17-year-old young man, started a journey that would earn him two Guinness World Records.
Mack came from a family of pilots, and he received his license to fly in 2020. That achievement made him the youngest pilot in the world. He was only 15.
He was born to British parents but grew up in Belgium and has dual citizenship.
Earning his license was the beginning of an adventure that would take him through 52 countries on five continents, in a small aircraft, as the sole pilot. The aircraft was a Shark, an ultralight aircraft that can cruise at a speed of 186 mph.
The first world record was for being the youngest pilot. The second world record was for being the youngest person to fly around the Earth in a ultralight plane.
Mack began his trip in Sofia, Bulgaria, where his sponsor, ICDSoft, a web hosting company, had its headquarters.
The teen wanted to achieve his goal in three months, but weather, sandstorms, war and bureaucracy caused his trip to last five months.
The war in Ukraine forced him to change some of his flight paths. Instead of flying over Russia, he had to go south over Southeast Asia and Asia, before flying 10 hours over the Pacific Ocean.
He stopped on an island near the Bering Strait. He next flew to Alaska, south over the West Coast of the United States, and down to Mexico. He continued up the East Coast of the US to Canada, and then crossed the Atlantic Ocean and back to Europe.
In addition to weather obstacles, he had to deal with delays due to permits and flight path changes.
He finally arrived back in Sofia on August 24. His family greeted him, proud and excited to see him back and safe. His father, Sam Rutherford, also a pilot, and mother were used to the drama. Mack’s sister, Zara, had done her own trip around the world months earlier, at the age of 19, also in a Sharp ultralight.
“Just follow your dreams, no matter how old you are – work hard and move forward to achieve your goals,” Mack said after he stepped out of the plane.
Mack plans to stay put for a while and catch up on his education.