17-year-old British-Belgian pilot Mack Rutherford

a The Belgian-British teenage pilot, set to become the youngest person to solo circumnavigate the globe in a small plane, landed in southern Belgium yesterday before the penultimate leg of his global journey. .

Mack Rutherford, who turned 17 on the trip, landed at the Buzet Airstrip near the city of Charleroi, where he first learned to fly. He is due to land in Bulgaria tomorrow. His aim is to replace Britain’s Travis Ludlow, who was 18 when he set the record in 2021.

Rutherford pilots the Shark, one of the fastest ultralight aircraft in the world, reaching cruising speeds of 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour). It normally seats two people, but it has an additional fuel tank next to the young pilot.

This is the same type of aircraft that her 19-year-old sister Zara Rutherford flew when she set the world record for circumnavigating the globe on January 20th as the youngest woman to do so.

Mac’s solitary journey, which began on March 23rd, took him through 52 countries on 5 continents. To comply with Guinness World Records requirements, the route crossed the equator twice.

“It was supposed to take two to three months, and now it’s been five months,” he told the Associated Press. Administrative procedures in Crete and Dubai caused delays “due to paperwork issues, visas, permits, etc.”

Mack Rutherford (right) poses with sister Zara Rutherford

The flight took him through Africa and the Gulf, where he faces extreme heat, to India, China, South Korea and Japan. From there, he made his way to Alaska and down the West Coast of the United States to Mexico. Then the teenage girl traveled north again, along the east coast of the United States to Canada, across the Atlantic Ocean via Iceland, to England and Belgium.

If all goes well and weather permits, we will cross Europe eastward via Slovakia and land tomorrow at an airport in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.

Proud father Sam Rutherford said his two children set a shining example.

“They have traveled the world safely, effectively and professionally. It showed other young people that they didn’t have to,” he told AP. Mark Carlson, Charleroi, MDT/AP

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