Flying the world solo: 16-year-old ‘MackSolo’ arrives in Seychelles
Why wait? You can achieve your dream even before you turn 18 years old, says a young pilot on a mission to break a world record after landing in Seychelles, one of the countries he is visiting on his solo quest.
Setting out to become the youngest person to fly solo around the world, Mack Rutherford, a 16-year-old British-Belgian pilot arrived in Seychelles on Saturday, May 28.
The young pilot received his licence in 2020 making him the youngest pilot in the world at only 15 years old. To break the record, he will be flying solo through 30 countries while making his trip around the world. He expects to finish the journey two months from now.
Rutherford met with Seychellois secondary and post-secondary students in an inspirational talk at L’Escale Resort Marina and Spa on Monday.
Rutherford, commonly known as MackSolo, told the press that it is nice to know that there are lots of other children who are interested in aviation and to show that they are able to follow their dreams.
“I am trying to show that young people can make a difference and you do not have to be 18 to do something special. Your age doesn’t matter – just follow your dreams and it will eventually become true,” said Rutherford.
“I am breaking the world record mostly because I always wanted to do something special in aviation and this is the perfect opportunity to do something like this. It will help me in the future but my main reason is that I really want to do a lot of flying and why wait? That is what I want to show you that you do not have to wait,” he continued.
One of the students who came to listen to Rutherford’s talk, 18-year-old Garett Belmont, a first-year engineering student at the Seychelles Institute of Technology (SIT), said that the talk was really insightful, pushing him to work hard to achieve his dream of becoming either an engineer or pilot.
“Through his experience, he has clarified a lot of things. He explained a lot of things that we didn’t know and I really appreciated when he talked about the challenges that he has encountered and how he overcame them. He understands a lot in aviation and he is doing something that I thought was impossible before,” said Belmont.
Another student, Ashaelle Bastienne, from Plaisance secondary school, said that “it is really interesting to see one of your peers doing something that in your country you will leave only to an older person to do. We want to know more about how he got the encouragement to do this.”
Bastienne added that Rutherford “is a very motivated young person, and him being here will give other local youth the encouragement to develop their passion, do what they dream of and not look at their age. Personally, it has encouraged me to know my priorities and focus more on what I want to achieve.”
The young pilot comes from a family of aviators, with her sister being a private pilot, who became the youngest woman to fly solo around the world. Rutherford explained that she inspired him to break his own record.
“After I finish breaking the record, I have to go back to school and try to catch up as much as possible but after that, I need to go to university and I will definitely continue flying and after university, I might go to the air force or something like that,” shared Rutherford.
He told the students about some of the difficulties he encountered along his trip so far, saying that when flying over Egypt and Sudan he had issues with visibility over the desert. When passing over Nairobi and Antananarivo, he encountered complications in terms of high mountains and quite low clouds.
“I’ve had quite impressive views over northern Kenya and the Sahara. It is completely different from what I know in Europe. In Kenya, you have amazing landscapes with animals everywhere and then the Sahara has a desert all over with the River Nile. It is something incredible and something I’ve never seen before,” said Rutherford.
He is set to leave Seychelles in the early morning on Wednesday and will be setting off to Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as he continues his journey around the world.