Aged 17 years and 64 days, expert aviator Mack Rutherford (UK) is officially the overall youngest  person to circumnavigate the world by aircraft solo.

Mack – nicknamed Mack Solo – landed in Sofia, Bulgaria, on a warm summer afternoon. 

The teen aviator had departed from the same city on 23 March 2022, six months prior, to pursue his dream of achieving the world record. 

Just like his sister Zara Rutherford, who broke two aviation records herself earlier this year, Mack faced the challenge completely alone. 

52 countries and five continents later, Mack returned to Sofia on the 24th of August 2022, marking the end of his trip around Earth.

Born in June 2005 from Belgian and British parents, when Mack set out on his record-breaking flight, he was only 16. 

He celebrated his 17th birthday on the plane that would deliver him four Guinness World Record titles:

  • Youngest person to circumnavigate the world by aircraft solo
  • Youngest person to circumnavigate the world by aircraft solo (male)
  • Youngest person to circumnavigate the world by microlight solo (male)
  • Youngest person to circumnavigate the world by microlight solo

“I believe young people can make a difference." - Mack Rutherford

Mack and certificates

Mack achieved the record youngest person to circumnavigate the world by microlight solo, previously held by his sister Zara. His achievements have reconfirmed the Rutherfords as a family of talented, adventure-seeking pilots. 

He completed the circumnavigation aboard a small, single-engine aircraft. 

He could only travel by daylight, and the limited size of his aircraft forced him to occasionally land whenever the weather conditions got too critical. 

The 17-year-old travelled for a total of six months, adjusting to last-minute route changes and several challenges, and also got to meet several people across the globe whenever he landed. 

He never stopped smiling, joking and updating his followers every step of the ambitious journey.  

The sight above Mauritius

As he expected, Mack's journey turned out to be far from plain sailing. 

Just like other pilots before him, Mack was called to prove that he can rise to the occasion, facing poor weather and unexpected landings.

Troubles started after reaching Casco Cove, an island of the Aleutian archipelago and the most challenging segment of his flight. 

This section of the journey was made even more complicated by adverse weather conditions.

Mack battled strong winds and rain after approximately 10 hours of flying non-stop over open water.

Even though he expected the forecasted tailwinds, sudden strong headwinds slowed down his journey and forced the young pilot to land in Attu. 

"Mackinson Crusoe was now on an uninhabited island, surrounded only by boarded-up buildings, battle relics, and memorials telling of the immense amount of lost souls to the place... Although the scenery was breathtaking," he jokingly reported on his Instagram. 

With his incredible quest, Mack snatched the world record from fellow British pilot Travis Ludlow.

In October 2021, Travis broke the record after landing in the Netherlands.

The previous record holder was 18 years 150 days old when he completed his 24,900-mile trip around Earth, a year older than Mack.

During his circumnavigation, Travis surpassed the minimum distance required to break the world record (24,540 miles) when he set a personal milestone and flew to Gibraltar, on 9 July.

If Mack’s surname may sound familiar, it’s because he’s not the only one from the family with his head – and dreams – in the sky. 

Mack comes from a family of aviators and pilots. Thanks to them, the passion for aviation runs in his blood. 

"I have known for certain I wanted to fly since I was eleven," Mack says, reporting that his entire family has always encouraged him to follow and pursue his dream, helping him with his flying. 

“My dad Sam is a professional ferry pilot, my mum Beatrice is a recreational private pilot.”

Mack with his sister

His family, and in particular his sister Zara, is Mack’s inspiration for attempting a world record.

Mack is the younger brother of fellow pilot and record holder Zara Rutherford.

Earlier this year, Zara officially became the youngest person to circumnavigate the world by aircraft solo (female), completing her circumnavigation at 19 years and 199 days.

Zara is also the youngest person to circumnavigate the world by microlight solo (female).  

Zara with the two certificates

"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."

The Rutherford children, with four certificates now in the family, have brought the concept of a healthy siblings rivalry to new heights.

We can’t wait to see what records await Mack in his future. For now, he is completing an A-level in History, with a particular passion for World War II. Perhaps flying a Spitfire is next on the young aviator's list!