Matt Guthmiller began his journey to circumnavigate the globe on May 31. Now, a month and a half later, the 19-year-old pilot has completed his grueling 29,000 mile flight. The Associated Press reported today that the young aviator finished the journey in a leased single-engine airplane late Monday night when he landed at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, Calif. The feat makes the MIT student from South Dakota the youngest person to fly solo around the world.
“Its great to be back, thank you all so much for being here,” said Guthmiller, who admitted to reporters that he was drained from the long trip. "Of course he looked tired," Shirley Guthmiller told media outlets. "I'm very relieved he is home, but I wasn't worried."
Flight experts and professional pilots have praised Guthmiller because they explained hat although the teen's 1981 plane was updated with all the latest technology, the trip was still a dangerous one.
“When you are flying over the ocean for hour after hour on one engine you are taking a big risk. That one engine goes out and it’s all over. There’s nowhere to ditch,” said Rob Hembury, a commercial pilot who was there among a crowd of Guthmiller’s friends and family when he landed Monday. “I get nervous flying over the ocean even with three engines.”
The previous record was set last year by Australian Ryan Campbell, who touched down 70 days after setting off on his epic journey. At the time of completion of the flight, Campbell was 19 years, 7 months and 25 days. Guthmiller will be the same on July 24.