On Wednesday May 18, Belgian-British pilot Mack Rutherford landed his plane in Kenya.
Mack—a 16-year-old boy who is on a quest to become the youngest pilot to complete a solo flight around the world—began his journey in March near Sofia, Bulgaria, and landed his small two-seater ultralight aircraft in Nairobi, Kenya, last Wednesday.
The young pilot is attempting to break a Guinness World record currently held by his compatriot Travis Ludlow, another young pilot who was 18 when he became the youngest person to fly solo around the world in a single-engine aircraft in July 2021.
After landing at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Mack said he hopes his journey will inspire his generation to chase their dreams.
I’m hoping, with this journey, to inspire young people to follow their dreams.Mack Rutherford
The plane’s manufacturer Shark Aero refused to partner with Rutherford for its solo flight attempt as the company deemed the journey too risky. On its website, Shark Aero said that it does not feel comfortable pushing the pilots’ age limit to the lowest possible, although it recognized Mack’s flying skills.
Mack is no doubt a skilled pilot. However, we do not feel comfortable pushing the age limit to the lowest possible point for journeys where a certain level of risk cannot be avoided.Shark Aero, plane manufacturer
So far, Rutherford’s journey has been smooth. The young pilot said that visibility was scarce while he was flying across the Sahara desert, but he added that the scenery made up for it.
It hasn’t let me down, I’ve absolutely loved the views both around the Sahara desert and in Kenya.Mack Rutheerford
The 16-year-old pilot will visit four more African and Indian Ocean countries. Then, he will head to the Middle East, Asia and North America and finally return to Europe.
Raised in a family of pilots, Rutherford first took control of an aircraft at the age of seven, and became the world’s youngest pilot when he was only 15. Now, he is following the footsteps of his 19-year-old sister Zara, who became the youngest woman to fly around the world solo last January.