US teenager hopes to become youngest person to fly solo round the globe

US pilot Matt Guthmiller sits in the cockpit of his single-engined Beechcraft A36 Bonanza aircraft before his departure from the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur on June 27, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
US pilot Matt Guthmiller sits in the cockpit of his single-engined Beechcraft A36 Bonanza aircraft before his departure from the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur on June 27, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

SUBANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - While other teenagers are enjoying summer in the United States, Matt Guthmiller, 19, is circumnavigating the globe solo, travelling 46,671km in a single-engine aircraft to prove that nothing is impossible.

Guthmiller, who arrived in Subang on Friday night after a gruelling 12-hour flight from Nagpur, India, said his goal was to be the youngest person to achieve the feat "so that others may dare to dream big too".

"And that's exactly why the flight is called Limitless Horizons,'' said the teenager from Aberdeen, South Dakota.

"You can have big ideas. You don't need years of schooling or experience to do things you want to.

"Just go out, tear down the problems and figure out how you can make it. This includes starting a company or finding some goals you want to achieve," he told The Star.

Guthmiller took up the challenge to fly around the world solo after reading about Jack Wiegand, who became the youngest pilot to do so at 21 last year.

Australian Ryan Campbell, 19, broke that record a few months later.

"I'll be 19, but younger than him by about three weeks. This keeps things interesting," said Guthmiller, who started his journey from California on May 31.

He said he would have made about 20 stops before he returned home on July 14.

Besides vying for a Guinness World Record, Guthmiller is attempting to raise US$250,000 (S$312,445) for charity in an effort called Code.org, which works to put computer science education programmes in schools.

To him, computer science is "a really great tool which enables people to build something new".

An only child, Guthmiller's father is in real estate while her mother is a pharmacist.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) freshman said he started being a programmer when he was still young.

"Right now, I'm studying electrical engineering and computer science," he said. "Over the years, I have started a few companies building things with computers."

The EAA Malaysia Flying Club is facilitating Guthmiller's stopover in Malaysia. He leaves for Manila tomorrow morning.