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17-year-old becomes youngest pilot to fly solo around world

Mack Rutherford waves after landing at Sofia West Airport in Bulgaria on Aug 24, 2022. (MARIAN DRAGANOV / XINHUA)

SOFIA – Mack Rutherford, 17, landed here on Wednesday after he broke the current world record for the youngest pilot to fly solo around the world.

Mack Rutherford took off from Sofia on March 23 this year and landed again here after flying through 52 countries and logging up around 250 hours of flying time

His achievement was duly recognized by the Guinness World Records, which handed him two certificates immediately after landing: for the youngest (male) person to circumnavigate the world by aircraft solo, and the youngest (male) person to circumnavigate the world in a microlight plane solo.

Rutherford took off from Sofia on March 23 this year and landed again here after flying through 52 countries and logging up around 250 hours of flying time.

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Bulgaria was the starting and ending point of his journey due to the sponsorship of Bulgarian company ICDSoft.

His five-month trip and the fact that he departed from and arrived in Bulgaria were "absolutely amazing," Rutherford told reporters after landing. "I am really happy.

This was a very exciting, very interesting trip."

There were several "hairy" moments during his journey, he said, but he never gave up.

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Rutherford, a Belgian-British aviator, was born on June 21, 2005, so he turned 17 during the trip. He has lived all his life in Belgium.

The aircraft of Mack Rutherford approaches Sofia West Airport in Bulgaria on Aug 24, 2022. (MARIAN DRAGANOV / XINHUA)

"I have known for certain I wanted to fly since I was 11, having flown hundreds of hours with my dad, who is a professional pilot," he said.

"When I was 15 years and three months old, I received my microlight pilot's license making me at the time the youngest pilot in the world. Since then, I have also flown two trans-Atlantic crossings."