Mack Rutherford, 17, becomes the youngest person who circumnavigated the globe solo in a small aircraft

26 Aug 2022

On 24 August, Mack Rutherford, a 17-year-old British-Belgian pilot, completed his mission and became the youngest person in history who has flown solo around the world in a small aircraft. He has landed in Sofia, Bulgaria, where his sponsor ICDSoft is based. His journey lasted 5 months and 1 day. With his flight, Mack wanted to show that young people can pursue their dreams and achieve amazing things. It might not be easy or smooth sailing, but with grit and perseverance chances of success are on your side. He hopes he will inspire youngsters to pursue their dreams, who in turn, will inspire more youngsters to do the same. Hopefully, creating a virtual domino effect of youngsters making a difference.

Sherborne School DorsetMack’s journey took twice as long as expected and was filled with challenges that Mack needed to solve one at a time. On 23 March 2022, two months before his seventeenth birthday, Mack took off from the same airfield he just landed at, Sofia West in Bulgaria. He headed to Italy and Greece, where he faced a 6-week delay, having to alter his route and obtain the necessary permits and documents required for further flight. From there he flew south to Africa, crossing Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar and Mauritius. Next, he headed north to Oman and UAE, where again, he was delayed for more than 5 weeks, waiting for an Iranian permit that eventually did not come in fast enough. He decided to alter his route again to Pakistan, India, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan. Next he crossed the northern Pacific and after 10 uninterrupted hours in the air diverted to Attu just before sunset, a volcanic island of the Aleutian Archipelago near the Bering Straits. He continued to mainland Alaska, further along the west coast of America to Mexico, north to Canada and across the Atlantic via Greenland, Iceland, the UK and Belgium.

Apart from the permit and visa issues delaying his flight, Mack faced many other challenges. Over Egypt his backup fuel tank wasn’t working and he thought he may have to perform an emergency landing. In Sudan, his solar panel system fell down because the heat melted the glue maintaining it in place combined with extreme haze. In Dubai he faced extreme heat. In India, monsoon rains entered his main fuel tanks and soaked his aircraft including some documents on board. Soon after, his auto-pilot started failing and kept doing so, on and off, for the rest of his epic journey. On another occasion, he had an electrical failure impacting the system that pushes fuel from the additional tank sat on the back seat, to the aircraft’s main tanks. After his longest flight across the Pacific, he found his food smelling of fuel, probably because fuel had accidentally spilt on it. Upon his arrival in Greenland his landing gear alarm went on. Whatever was thrown at Mack, he dealt with it in a calm and professional manner. He focused on his dream and goal, proving that young people can pursue their dreams and achieve amazing things despite many challenges and obstacles.

Since the age of three Mack has wanted to be a pilot. He qualified for his pilot license in September 2020, which at the time, made him the youngest pilot in the world at the age of 15 years and two months. Mack has flown hundreds of hours with his dad, who is a professional pilot.

Since he became a pilot, he has been planning his solo flight around the globe. In the meantime, his sister Zara became the youngest woman to fly around the world, which gave Mack an additional spur to set off.

“I have been fortunate to have had a family that has been able to help me progress in my flying. But no matter what background you have, I believe it is never too early to work towards your dreams and you shouldn’t limit yourself by others’ expectations.” – adds Mack.

Mack has claimed two Guinness World Records. He is the youngest person to fly around the world solo – this title was held previously by Travis Ludlow who was 18 at the completion of his attempt last year. Mack has also become the youngest person to circumnavigate the world in a microlight, the title held previously by his sister Zara, who completed her own circumnavigation in January this year.

Just like Zara, Mack was flying a Shark. It is a high-performance ultralight aircraft manufactured in Europe. It is one of the fastest ultralight aircraft in the world with a cruising speed reaching 300 km/h. The aircraft was specially prepared for such a long journey.

Sherborne School 2022 Mack solo plane


Mack’s entire record-breaking trip around the world is proudly sponsored by the web hosting company ICDSoft – helping sites fly since 2001. ICDSoft also very kindly loaned Mack the plane for the attempt.

Exact itinerary and further information: