In just 15 days teenager Lachlan Smart will land on the Sunshine Coast with the title of the youngest person to fly around the world solo, a feat made easier after advice from Australia’s Red Bull Air Race pilot Matt Hall.
Departing for his global Odyssey five and a half weeks ago Smart has come across plenty of challenges. He’s crossed the Pacific Ocean, altered his route to avoid poor weather systems in the Atlantic and knows there are more tough times to come as he crosses into the Middle East today, before navigating Asia on his quest to return home,
Ever the image of confidence and preparedness, 18-year-old Smart is wise beyond his years, but like the rest of us he has moments of doubt. However unlike many, those times are fleeting and he attributes his strong mental fortitude to advice from fellow pilot Hall.
“It’s natural to have doubts, but for me it is very much about addressing them and putting them behind me, rather than focusing on them,” a resolute Smart said.
“If you spend too long thinking about what could go wrong, you’re not spending enough time focusing on what could go right. That’s a tip Matt Hall gave me.
“Over the past two and a half years I have put in place safety plans and I am sticking to those, they are thorough and backed up.”
With his next leg scheduled to take the Sunny Coast teenager from Crete, Greece to Hurghada, Egypt before a hop into Oman and then Sri Lanka, he says his biggest challenges over the next few days will be communication.
“Crossing the oceanic regions around India and Sri Lanka will be hard, probably the biggest challenge on the horizon, especially with communication,” he said.
“The different accents will add a layer of difficulty, so I need to be sure that I understand each communication clearly and follow instruction to the best of my ability.”
“It will be hard, but I am confident that it is simply another small challenge that will need to be overcome.”
Since his departure Smart has made 15 stops, beginning in Fiji and the Pacific islands of Pago Pago and Kiribati before landing in Hawaii. From there it was a marathon crossing to the west coast of the USA, before flying north to Canada.
From Canada it was across the Atlantic Ocean to the Azores islands, onto the UK, then Europe and now is in Egypt.
There are a further eight destinations scheduled before Smart touches back down on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday, August 27.