MANILA, Philippines–Surely it takes guts to fly a plane solo across the globe—and at only 19 years of age. The American teenage pilot who is attempting to make it to the Guinness World Records as the youngest person to circumnavigate the world alone, Matthew Lee Guthmiller, reached the Philippines on Tuesday afternoon, making a three-day stop here before flying on to Australia. Guthmiller, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was given a warm welcome by officials and employees of aviation products supplier Varace Air Corp. and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) as soon as he landed his Beechcraft Bonanza A36 in Pasay City.The American pilot arrived at 5 p.m., an hour later than expected as he had to go around a thunderstorm on his way from Kuala Lumpur to the Philippines. As soon as he got out of his aircraft, the bespectacled Guthmiller flashed a smile and waved to waiting photographers and television crew. “This is the best reception I’ve gotten so far. It’s quite amazing. I did not expect this much,” he said.
A freshman at MIT majoring in electrical engineering and computer science, Guthmiller got his private pilot’s license on his 17th birthday. He embarked on his record-breaking journey on May 31, with San Diego, California, as the start-off point. He flew to Aberdeen, South Dakota, and New York City in the United States, and St. John’s, Newfoundland, in Canada, before heading off over the Atlantic Ocean.
He made stops in Azores, Portugal; London, England; Rome, Italy; Athens, Greece; Dubai, UAE; Calcutta, India; and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before flying to the Philippines. Guthmiller plans to cover more than 28,000 miles for this world-record-breaking attempt, making 25 stops in 14 countries.
He flies his aircraft at a cruising speed of approximately 160 knots (185 miles per hour).
He is more than half-way to his destination, with at least three more stops in Australia and New Caledonia before flying back to the US. In the United States, he will land in American Samoa, Hawaii, San Diego, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.
When he reaches his hometown of Aberdeen by the first week of July, Guthmiller is expected to break the world record currently held by Australian Ryan Campbell. Campbell was 19 years, seven months and 25 days old when he completed the feat in September 2013. The American teenager would be 16 days younger than Campbell if he finishes his journey in the US by July 8, 2014. Guthmiller began planning his journey in May last year, a few months before Campbell started his. He was inspired by another aviator, 21-year-old Jack Wiegand of California. “In May last year, I heard about another guy doing it in California. He was 21. I said I can also do that,” said Guthmiller… see more