Sunshine Coast teenager Lachlan Smart is standing on the edge of a history making moment, and on Saturday he will go from attempting a Guinness World Record to owning one.
On July 4, 2016 Smart departed from the Sunshine Coast Airport at 4.15am AEST with the hope of becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the world by aircraft, solo. It was a trip that had been two and half years in the making, and on Saturday the 18-year-old will not only officially own that record…he will smash it.
The previous benchmark was set by American Matt Guthmiller who completed his circumnavigation when he was 19 years, 7 months and 15 days. Smart will be 18 years, 7 months and 21 days when he touches down on August 27.
While the record is key to this journey, it was never the motivation for Smart to pack his life into a single engine plane to fly across vast masses of water, stopping in 24 locations and 15 countries along the way.
The real dream was for Smart to inspire others, particularly youth, to chase their dreams.
His logic was simple: If a teenager from the modest suburb of Nambour on the Sunshine Coast could rally a team to support him, raise funds and spread his message of youth achievement to people all around the world, there was nothing that could stop others from achieving high goals.
Come Saturday, Smart will depart Bundaberg early in the early morning and is expected to touch down on the Sunshine Coast at 7.30am AEST.
He will be greeted by a public welcome party that will include friends, family, official partners, government officials and importantly the people that have followed his trip for more than seven weeks, regardless of whether they personally know him or not.
Upon his arrival there will be a formal welcome home ceremony, but not before the one person who has counted down each day since his departure, greets him, mother Vanessa Sprague.
In a fitting finale to his world flight, Vanessa will also be the honorary marshal, directing Lachie into his final parking spot before the pair is reunited for the first time in more than 50 days.
Public are invited to attend from 6.45am AEST.
Lachie Smart’s Homecoming is a public event; with those wishing to attend encouraged to do so. It will be a chance to see the plane, and meet Lachie after his trip. Key details are below:
ARRIVE: 6.45am AEST
LACHIE ARRIVES: 7.30am AEST
Special event parking will be in place. Follow signs marked ‘Special Event Parking’ which will take you to a special event zone – free of charge until 10am AEST.
Parking in any of the other airport car parks will be charged at normal rates
All guests will be required to go through security screening, please bring only essential items.
People with a disabled sticker will be able to park in the short-term car park FREE OF CHARGE. Contact on-site SES volunteers or Wings Around the World team members for a pass.
Somehow in the last 8 hours my flight plan from Azores to England had gone from a straight flight of around 9.5 hours to a 14-hour European sojourn through Portugal, Spain, France and England.
So being the stubborn fellow that I am, I began ringing around the world to find out who had meddled with my flight plan and why it had been changed. After talking to Brussels, who manage all of Europe’s airspace, I found that they required a waypoint every 50 nautical miles or less… It was a 1500nm flight!
So after trying to argue with a very unhappy Belgian man I decided that my inner donkey would come out and I began plotting 30 latitude and longitude waypoints for the track that I wanted (the shortest one). By now it is 11pm and I was very tired but had made a complete flight plan and was ready to submit it.
So I talked to my Belgian friend who is now bent on not accepting my flight plan. My next step was to find a Portuguese authority to submit my plan on my behalf. I haven’t practised my Portuguese for a while, so this conversation was difficult as his English was also very broken, however after half an hour of latitude and longitudes and then 12 minutes of trying to give him my email address, we got there in the end. 1am, 12.5 hours since the original plan had been submitted, it was time for bed.
Sleeping with my fingers crossed there were no problems I gave into tiredness and put aside that marathon my night had become to get the flight plan submitted.
The next morning I was up and to the airport by 6:20am for a 7am departure. Checking my emails I found that my plan had been accepted, even on the track that I wanted! I was on a high until that came crashing down when I read my supposed departure time: 1am.
So rapid phone calls to two wrong numbers before getting through to my Portuguese friend again, I had a quick discussion about the meaning of 7am. Eventually he read through and found that for some reason he had put a 1am departure with a 6 hour delay at Santa Maria prior to take off. Of course that would be the logical thing to do? *sigh*.
All was back on track and after jumping in the Spirit of the Sunshine Coast I brought the aircraft to life and we roared off toward the motherland: England!
A photo posted by Wings Around the World (@watw2016) on
I was looking forward to this trip as it would bring to a close the first half of the journey and I would also get to see some familiar faces again. After getting a new clearance before take off I ended up throwing away the first 10 waypoints and tracking through only two new waypoints prior to entering England’s airspace where I resumed my original flight plan along the million waypoints, which I very quickly established with ATC that I would not be reporting at every single one.
Around 3 hours out from England I began getting diverted around over France and moved to accommodate for other traffic flowing around Europe. Eventually I made it to Biggin Hill and completed what felt like a mammoth challenge to cross the Atlantic.
Now having past both the halfway points for distance and time, I am on the home run. I have really enjoyed my time in England with family unwinding, but I am now feeling rested and ready to continue this world record attempt. Look out Europe here I come.
Want to know a little more about where you can find us in the media?
As we gear up for Lachlan Smart’s attempt to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo, in a single engined aircraft, stay up to date with his story as told by Australian (and global) media.
Check out the highlights of what has already been achieved below:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.