Today the man (officially) behind Wings Around the World celebrates his 18th birthday, a significant milestone socially and also in terms of the record of becoming the youngest pilot to circumnavigate the globe solo, in a single engined aircraft.
In celebration of his birthday, we asked Lachie’ parents Vanessa and Will to write a quick blog and reflect on the man that their son is.
I cannot believe my baby is 18! Even though he has seemed so grown up for quite a while, Lachie’s 18th is a special milestone and one I am really looking forward to celebrating.
Looking back on the last few years I realise just how blessed I am to have Lachie for my son (my one and only child). He has been the “man of the house” for many years and I don’t know where I would be without him. From a practical handyman point of view he has been extremely helpful (thanks to his dad for teaching him these skills!), often fixing things with seemingly little effort when I hadn’t even known where to start.
But I am also extremely grateful for the times he has been a shoulder for me to cry on and just sat there and listened to stuff teenage boys are really not interested in. He has also kept me grounded when I needed it with some very wise pieces of advice – sometimes I didn’t want to hear it though. I know, usually it’s the other way round!
Watching how Lachie has navigated his teenage years leaves me full of admiration. Even though there were times when I really struggled to let go of the apron strings, I just had to do it and let him experience some of life’s lessons. Sometimes sitting on the sideline was really hard, but to see how he grew in character from these experiences warms my heart. I am grateful that we have the kind of relationship where he knew he could come to me if and when he needed to and talk about stuff he was going through. Sometimes he didn’t want to hear my advice though, does that sound familiar?
We are preparing to celebrate Lachie’s 18th at home with a few (quite a few!) family and friends. I decided this was a good time to go through the entire house and back yard and do a significant spring clean. Lachie has been a bit sick this week but again his character and level of respect for what people are doing for him has shone through with him working hard for days cleaning windows, walls, and anything else he was asked to do, without complaining. Some things I hadn’t even asked him to do – he just knew I would like them done.
To Lachie – happy 18th birthday. Thank you for the most amazing 18 years. I can’t seem to find the words to describe how proud I am of you and how much I love you.
This next year of your life is going to see the fruition of a big dream of yours and the beginning of an amazing future. Seeing the responsible, independent young man you have become, with the incredible initiative and attention to detail you show, I know this solo flight around the world will be an amazing experience.
Lachie you are a great role model. You have, and are, living up to the message of following your dreams and never giving up, that is behind this flight and I’ll be there for you every step of the way.
Love, Mum xx
2016 has rapidly become a significant milestone in the life of Lachie Smart, my one and only child.
This year on the 6th of January Lachie turns 18 Years Old and will set his own path in life as a young Aussie man chasing his dreams. Come June, he’ll be a man setting off around the world in his own challenge to be the youngest solo pilot to ever circumnavigate the globe in a single engine aircraft.
This is challenging stuff for me as a parent and obviously an even bigger task for a teenager. Despite this, as I reflect on the man Lachie has become over the past 18 years, there are a number of things that make me feel like her is ready to be crossing the world’s oceans, desserts and mountain ranges in his flying machine.
The past few months has been interesting watching Lachie grow up and face lots of choices, as teenagers do the first year out of school. Many of Lachie’s peers turned 18 this past year, and there have been lots of parties and all the normal challenges of alcohol, girls and various social pressures to navigate.
I’ve seen Lachie go to the parties, have fun but remain as the designated driver. He has faced the first of his challenges with a girlfriend that has come and gone and there have been parties where he could have gone wild but chose not to. Lachie was never interested in partying hard with alcohol and he demonstrates that you can still have all the fun, to even push the boundaries, but without crossing the line into things improper, immoral, unlawful or irresponsible. He has channelled his energies more positively.
Regarding study and flying, of which there has been plenty, Lachie has already had some wonderful adventures, flying family out on joy flights, collecting sick passengers on Angel Flights and taking his mates up into the skies to just have fun or take photos from the air. Lachie has never taken risks, nor shown off or been proud and boastful. In fact he has just organised things and done it well flight after flight, happy safe passenger after happy safe passenger.
Meeting wonderful and inspirational people has been another landmark of the past year. Over the past few years Lachie has witnessed the risks associated with flying and rode the rollercoaster of joy and heartache in aviation land. Moreover he has befriended some amazing people in the aviation community.
In what can only be described as a coincidence, another opportunity to learn awaits Lachie on January 7, a day after his birthday when Tracey Curtis-Taylor arrives in Sydney to conclude an epic solo journey from England to Australia in a classic World War II Aircraft. Curtis Taylor is an amazing pilot who is a pioneer for females, and a inspiration to all and has spent the past months flying a 1942 Boeing Stearman biplane across the globe. Fortunately Lachie will be there to meet Tracey and talk with her about her trip, discuss challenges and understand her pioneering spirit.
I would also like to take a moment to recognise another of Lachie’s hero’s, Ryan Campbell. Recently Ryan was involved in an unfortunate aviation accident, and remains in hospital recovering. Ryan has been a friend to Lachie, an inspiration and I wish him a speedy recovery.
Lachie anI often take time out to chat, and as he evalua
ted the past year I asked him in all sincerity if he felt he was ready for his 18th year, marked as one to achieve high goals, manage risks and time and many other challenges. He was unwavering in his assurance to me that he had contemplated this year a lot and was ready, that it is time to press on with his journey and life goals.
This year when Lachie sets off around the world, he won’t just be telling people is key message, that youth and all people can achieve high goals, no matter how big, no matter your age or background, he’ll be exemplifying it.
Could Lachie become one of those pioneering leaders? I think he is well on the path, and the way he has conducted himself in recent years certainly indicates that.
Go well Lachie, my son; welcome to your 18th year, I am proud of you and I look forward to supporting the man you have become.