The sky really is the limit – 18 year old Lachlan Smart’s world record attempt
Every day at ANZ we meet with our customers. We listen to understand their hopes and dreams and how we can help make those a reality. David Horne, District Executive on the Sunshine Coast was talking to one of his customers, who mentioned his son Lachlan, was attempting to be the youngest ever person to fly around the world solo. After hearing the awe inspiring story, David was adamant that more people needed to hear this. To be inspired, to capture the essence of Lachlan’s message; “to help people set and achieve amazing goals.” What are you waiting for? This is Lachlan’s inspiring story…
A two year old Lachlan Smart sat with his mother at the airport, eating hot chips watching planes take off and land. Born in him that day was a passion for aviation that led him to attempt a world first – to become, at the age of 18, the youngest ever person to fly around the world solo. This will break the record currently held by American Matt Guthmiller, who did it aged 19 in July 2014. And when you consider that approximately 800 times more people have been into space than teenagers who have circumnavigated the globe, it really puts this feat into perspective.
Lachlan will take off from the east coast of Australia in June 2016 in a single engine aircraft. Over a ten week flight, Lachlan will circumnavigate the globe. But the real journey began with his first flying lesson.
“Dad bought me a flying lesson for my 14th birthday,” Lachlan recalls. “I was completely hooked from then on. I begged him for more, until the gaps between flights became shorter and I was flying every week.”
Lachlan gained his pilot’s license at the age of 16, which is the minimum age in Australia. He is qualified to fly all single engine aircraft, including the one that will take him on his epic adventure, a Cirrus SR22. “It’s my favourite type of aircraft to fly,” he reveals.
It seems amazing that a journey of this magnitude is being planned, considering Lachlan’s first solo flight was just over a year ago. “It was absolutely incredible,” he recalls. “My instructor got clearance from air traffic control, got out of the plane and said ‘you’re going for your first solo.’ I was absolutely stoked, having the aircraft under my control, completely on my own, knowing there was no instructor there to back me up.”
Lachlan’s love of being in complete command of an aircraft wasn’t the only thing responsible for sparking the idea to fly around the world solo. It was a combination of factors that led up to his decision to attempt the world record, a decision he made in October 2013. “Firstly I’ve always wanted to do something big, but I didn’t know what that would be,” he says. “Then there was my passion for aviation, but the third thing was that I had a message I wanted to share.”
Lachlan’s message is simple and very admirable. “I want to use the profile I’ll gain from this flight to send the message of setting and achieving big goals,” he reveals. “It’s aimed predominately at youth, but it’s really applicable to everyone, which is why I’m speaking at different events, not just at schools.
“A lot of people these days say ‘One day, I will…’ or ‘When I’m older, I want to…’ and honestly, there’s usually nothing holding them back from doing it now if they really want to. They need the motivation, and will to achieve, and I’m trying to help them find it. I want to help people set and achieve amazing goals.”
Lachlan’s aiming to inspire others, but he’s also got plans of his own when it comes to his future in aviation. He’s hoping that this flight will be a stepping stone on the path to becoming a pilot in the very real space race, with a company like Virgin Galactic. Lachlan’s ambition is to become a leader in space travel, and his message to others includes keeping your eye on future goals.
At this point, Lachlan’s feeling calm about the journey. There’s a lot of preparation to undertake, as well as fund-raising and media commitments. “I’m training for different conditions and circumstances,” he explains. “I’m studying for my instrument rating, and I’m undertaking some long range trips so I can get my head around what it’s going to be like to fly for a long time.”
Paramount among these preparations is safety. Lachlan and his family and team are taking no chances with his life. “We’ve got a lot of safety precautions in place,” he explains. “Well-prepared risk mitigation plans. There’s no point doing it if I’m going to endanger myself.”
Lachlan and his family are also working hard at fund-raising. “I’d love everyone who can to jump on board,” he says, when asked about potential sponsors. “One of the messages we’re getting out there is about communal success, which I’m relying on heavily. You need to look at those around you, to help you, and to help those around you as well. So if anyone would like to get in contact, just head to the Wings Around The World website.”
The flight itself will see Lachlan make 26 stops, in 20 countries across 5 continents, each of around three days. “I’m planning to leave in June as it is most suited for weather,” he explains. “I want it to be summer in the northern hemisphere when I am flying through the likes of Iceland and Canada as I need to avoid ice as much as possible.”
The longest flying segment will be the Hawaii to California leg, which could take up to 15 hours. “I will have a point of no return,” he reveals. “If the winds are not in my favour I’ll turn around at that point and return to Hawaii. I’m spending a week in London, because I’ve got family there and I’ll be getting the aircraft serviced.”
However Lachlan’s time in the air will be truly solitary. For the flight to be classified as solo, there won’t be anyone in the aircraft with him, and there will be no planes tailing him. He will be in contact with air traffic control at all times, but will only speak his team via satellite phone if it’s necessary, e.g. a diversion. He’ll have snacks such as muesli bars on board.
And what advice does Lachlan have for anyone who has a passion for something, and a desire to become a world-shaper like himself? “Just go for it,” he enthuses. “Remember though, if you’re going to be the first to do something, it won’t be easy. That’s why it’s a world record. Make sure you plan it thoroughly and put safety first. There’s no point in risking your own life just to get a record. That’s not at all what I’m doing. I’m sharing a message, and the world record’s going to help me do that. But this has two and a half years of planning behind it.”
The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.