Australian Youth at their Finest

While the claim to the Guinness World RecordTM as the youngest person to fly solo around the world is a title that Lachlan Smart would like to claim, his aspirations are just part of the ever-growing narrative of young Australian’s achieving great things.

Despite being centred on aviation, Wings Around the World is a project equally dedicated to exemplifying that dreams can be achieved no matter how big or small.  Age, size and circumstances are not limiting factors; instead they lie only as challenges worth overcoming for a final outcome.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a quick shortlist of 12 young Australian’s who have added to the history of successful Australian youth and made an impact with their actions.

Genevieve George – At the age of 22 Genevieve George set out to create employment startup OneShift, it was nothing more than an idea when she returned from travelling Europe. Since then the company has come on in leaps and bounds, and George is grabbing every opportunity she can by the scruff of the neck.

Genevieve George (Pic: Business Review Australia)
Genevieve George (Pic: Business Review Australia)

Nick Cummins – Known as ‘The Honey Badger’ he’s a likeable, talented football player and is also one of eight siblings to a single dad. After electrifying Australian rugby with his talent and penchant for headline-grabbing one-liners, Cummins was released from his Australian rugby commitments on compassionate grounds to make a living playing in Japan so he could support health concerns in his family.

Nick Cummins (centre) with Bernard Foley (L) & Israel Folou (R) (Pic: Courier Mail)
Nick Cummins (centre) with Bernard Foley (L) & Israel Folou (R) (Pic: Courier Mail)

Bindi Irwin – After overcoming the adversity of her father’s death in 2006, Bindi Irwin has continued the wildlife conservation work of her father & has successfully maintained herself as a strong voice in the media to help facilitate her cause. Oh, and she’s from the Sunshine Coast, the best place to be!

Bindi Irwin (Pic: Bindi Irwin Twitter/Australia Zoo)
Bindi Irwin (Pic: Bindi Irwin Twitter/Australia Zoo)

Alex Fisher – A fellow Australian Air Force Cadet, in 2014 Alex Fisher completed a 19-day solo journey around Australia known as the ‘Flight of Solidarity’. His flight was in aid of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and was an impressive achievement for a 17-year-old.

Alex Fisher (Pic: Brisbane Times)
Alex Fisher (Pic: Brisbane Times)

Chaz Mostert – At 23 Chaz Mostert is one of the brightest young motor racing talents in Australia. Already with a Bathurst 1000 crown under his belt, Mostert is now in the hunt for the 2015 championship. He’s a likeable character and is just a young person living the dream…is there a better way to live?

Chaz Mostert (Pic: speedcafe.com)
Chaz Mostert (Pic: speedcafe.com)

Casey Stoner – A dual MotoGP champion and possibly one of the greatest talents on two wheels Australia has ever produced. Stoner moved away from his friends and hometown at a very young age to pursue his dream, making many sacrifices and succeeding against some of the toughest competitors in the world.

Casey Stoners wins his 6th successive Australian Grand Prix (Pic: CTA Australia)
Casey Stoners wins his 6th successive Australian Grand Prix (Pic: CTA Australia)

Wyatt Roy – Not everyone wants to jump on crocodiles or race fast and Wyatt Roy is a great example of a young person making good on their dream. At just 20 years of age Wyatt become the youngest person ever to be elected to an Australian parliament, and he’s holding his own against much more experienced politicians. Not to mention he’s undergoing training to be a pilot & grew up on the Sunshine Coast!

Wyatt Roy, GQ politician of the year 2010 (Pic: Adrian Mesko)
Wyatt Roy, GQ politician of the year 2010 (Pic: Adrian Mesko)

Melissa Wu – It’s hard to believe that at the age of 23 Melissa Wu has been competing for Australia in diving for just on 10 years now. Wu is Australia’s youngest ever Olympic diving medallist and by the age of 16 had medalled in every major international diving competition.

Melissa Wu (Pic: Daily Telegraph)
Melissa Wu (Pic: Daily Telegraph)

Ian Thorpe – He’s an athlete who inspired our nation and at 17 was the most successful athlete at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. His success continued in Athens in 2004, and despite missing a place on the team during his comeback in 2012, he showed us that you’re better off having a crack than not trying at all.

Ian Thorpe wins in Athens (Pic: ABC Network)
Ian Thorpe wins in Athens (Pic: ABC Network)

Ryan Campbell – This list wouldn’t be complete without Ryan on it. A former holder of the record Lachlan is now setting out to break, Ryan has been an inspiration to many young aviators after flying around the world, solo in 2013 and has become a strong voice in the aviation community.

Ryan Campbell (Pic: 2GB)
Ryan Campbell (Pic: 2GB)

Jessica Watson – A fellow Queenslander, who stopped the nation on her return from a sailing around the world solo. Jessica was awarded Young Australian of the year in 2011 and continues to inspire youth and work with the United Nations.

Jessica Watson (Pic: Herald Sun)
Jessica Watson (Pic: Herald Sun)

Any young Aussies who have taken on a monster swell at Bells Beach – Home of the Rip Curl Pro, the Victorian surfing spot is a bucket list location for young (and old) Australian surfers, but anyone who has taken on the big swells at ‘Bells’ is a hero in our books!

Big surf at Bells Beach (Pic: Simon Brown)
Big surf at Bells Beach (Pic: Simon Brown)

Risk mitigation the focus with Cirrus training success

With the preparation for Wings Around the World continuing, Lachlan Smart has recently completed specific training for the Cirrus SR22 aircraft, which he plans to use on his record breaking around the world flight.

The Cirrus Conversion Training is aimed at familiarising pilots with the high performance Cirrus aircraft, which includes learning the systems and individualities of the aircraft encompassing the avionics as well as the advanced Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS).

With all the training provided by AVIA Aviation, Lachlan was able to not only expand his experience and knowledge, but also continue the work on his extensive safety management plan by familiarising himself with the unique CAPS safety system, that in the case of a life-threatening emergency is a crucial component of his trip.

AVIA, who are a Melbourne based flight school have made a name as one of the leading fixed wing aviation schools and are aligned with Cirrus Melbourne dealership. Using their specific training facility is one of the many aspects of Lachlan’s preparation.

With the CAPS training the first item on the menu, Lachlan progressed from the theory behind the CAPS system and its deployment through to a few hours in the simulator where he applied the theory and procedure, all the while building muscle memory for the use of the system.

The remainder of his time was spent in the aircraft and a day of poor weather aside, Lachlan was able to familiarise himself with the Cirrus SR20 first, before moving into the more powerful SR22, with the aim of learning everything from general aircraft handling, circuits to engine and electrical failures as well as the advanced avionics and autopilot systems.

With Lachlan now returned to the Sunshine Coast, planning and the all important flight training continues for the Wings Around the World trip. There are plenty of exciting opportunities and potential new partnerships in the pipeline, with more information to follow in the coming weeks!

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Dad’s Dialogue – You can’t silence ‘The Look’

What do you say when your 15 year old teenager comes to you with an earnest look on his face saying “Dad, don’t think I’m silly, but what would you say about me flying around the world as the youngest person to ever do so?” Let me explain…

First of all there is “the look” that Lachie has. The best way to explain it is a mix of stubbornness and determination that just says, “You can’t stop me.” You just know that when Lachie gives you the look, what he is proposing is something that IS going to happen.

Is 'the look' behind these glasses?
Is ‘the look’ behind these glasses?

Lachie is my only child and from a young age has been meticulous, that much was evident when as a little kid he would line up his shoes to keep his space in order. He has always been diligent and steady, never upsetting others and has been cool and calm, he never swears nor speaks badly of others. While he has always been a gentleman, don’t mistake him as boring; he’s far from it.

For Lachie his determination and humour are key personality traits, and that has allowed us to share many great memories as he has grown up, including hitting the dirt track with our motorbikes.

I have memories of Lachie as this tiny kid on a little red Honda XR80, crossing creeks, climbing hills and wallowing in mud holes. He’d go anywhere, and I mean anywhere the men went. However he always proceeded at his own steady pace and only once he was confident he’d checked things out to be sure it could be done safely.

There was this one day when we were down in the forestry near the Glasshouse Mountains, I was on the big KTM 525 and Lachie on the little Honda 80. I went roaring down the track, through the forestry and across a deep creek, water up to my seat. I went to turn around to tell Lachie not to follow but there he was, water almost choking his little bike, confidently crossing the creek behind me, and “the look” was plastered across his face – he was right behind me!

An adventurer from a young age
An adventurer from a young age

As Lachie progressed into his mid-teens he excelled at school, completing year 12 at the tender age of 16 as an “A” student. He seemingly just handled life with ease, despite being thrown a few curve balls throughout his formative years.

When Lachie was just two years old his mother Vanessa and I split up, and as so may kids in divorced families do, he spent time between our houses. However around that we both Vanessa and I led ordinary lives, there was nothing fancy and it was often quite difficult financially. He has always been fortunate that we have had a close extended family, so he’s always been tight with his cousins.

Vanessa and I both also made a significant effort to leave the past behind, and we quickly focused on making Lachie the priority, keeping as much stability around our family unit as possible.

I’m sure that it isn’t just Vanessa and I that have been on the receiving end of “the look” before. Lachie has matured into a natural born leader in the past few years. This was a trait that was initially nurtured when he was a student at Nambour Christian College (NCC), a school that supported him from preschool to grade 12. He not only made a great bunch of friends at NCC but also found other talents, like his ability to play the piano and trombone.

While school was an essential, Lachie was able to pursue his passion for aviation at a younger age through the air force cadets where he found himself in gliders, planes, he learnt how to communicate, and was in the outdoors camping, orienteering and training.

There are many things that have helped Lachie mature as a leader
There are many things that have helped Lachie mature as a leader

He soon found himself again as a leader in the group with the cadets and he began teaching, leading, mentoring and even writing course material for the junior ranks. He also won a flying scholarship in the cadets and was lucky enough for support from the Coloundra RSL Club, who provided him with more valuable flying hours that went towards his private pilots licence.

As a parent the most important thing is to be there for your kid. Support costs nothing, but it means so much. From music concerts, to cadet parades, his first solo landing at Coolum airport and even hanging out with mates, we have done everything to be there when we need to be.

So back to how you might respond when your son announces that he is going to fly around the world solo… “WHY”?

The Look, his look, met mine and he exclaimed, “Because I can do it! I can break that record and show young people that they can achieve, they can reach their goals and things are never hopeless.

Lachie has a clear purpose, his determination is amazing and his people skills and organisation are taking him places I could never have imagined. It would be wrong not to support him.

With his biggest ever challenge ahead of him, it is now Lachie leading the way waist deep in water and me following with a strong support team. We will be there as he attempts to set the world record to be the youngest pilot to fly around the world.