LIFE STORY: Sunshine Coast teenager flying solo

12 March 2016
Reading time4 min

It’s typical for 18 year olds to want to spread their wings, but for one Sunshine Coast teenager life is really about to take off.

Since graduating high school in 2014, Lachlan Smart has been working on a project he started in 2013 called ‘Wings Around the World’, an attempt to break the record for the youngest person to fly solo around the world in a single engine aircraft. With his journey expected to take 10 weeks and cover 45,000km, Lachlan is sure to encounter many adventures in the 20 countries he plans on crossing after setting off in June.  

We catch up with Lachlan to find out what has inspired him to set his sights so high…

What inspired you to plan this journey? What do you hope your journey will achieve other than breaking records?

I put together this trip for three main reasons: 1. I have always wanted to do something big and that can inspire people. 2. I have always had a passion for aviation. 3. The message that I want to share. The inspiration for this trip came from Ryan Campbell who in 2013 completed a similar trip to the one I will be undertaking. However, the reason I have acted on this inspiration is that I already had a message that I wanted to get out to people, particularly youth. So often when I was in school and during my time with the Australian Air Force Cadets, I would hear my peers say, “Some day I would like to…” or “When I am older I will...” when often they are quite capable of achieving their dreams now and they are just missing the motivation and will to achieve. I intend to use this trip as a vehicle for me to help others find that motivation. 

Tell us about the preparation you are doing?

To prepare for the trip I am gaining as much practical flight experience as I can. After months of hard work I gained the qualifications I require for the journey including an instrument rating which allows me to fly in non-visual conditions (such as in cloud or above it). Now I am becoming more confident and gaining as much experience with these qualifications as I can. I have also undertaken international trips with Nauru Airlines to experience from a crew perspective what is required with long distance over-water flying. Finally, I am drawing on the experience of many other pilots who have done similar flights to obtain more knowledge.

What aircraft will you be flying?

The aircraft I am planning to use for the trip is a Cirrus SR-22. It is a reliable, safe and relatively quick single engine aircraft that is well suited and capable of doing what I am trying to achieve.

Will you be flying alone?

The trip is solo, so that means that there can be no one in the aircraft and we will not have any trailing aircraft either. In some locations the crew might meet me there.

Are you planning to take time out at each of the stops for some sightseeing?

I will have an average of two nights in each location, however some stops will be a little longer to allow for maintenance to be done on the aircraft or to catch up from delays.

When did you start flying and what is it you love about flying?

I had my first flying lesson on my 14th birthday and was hooked from there. Flying isn’t just a hobby or an interest for me, it’s a passion. My first solo flight was a very defining moment. It was the moment I felt I could actually register as something close to a pilot, my dream since a very young age.

What are your plans when you return from your journey?

When I return from the Wings Around the World trip, I intend to continue to spread my message in a number of ways including conducting talks at schools – and one very exciting project soon to be announced. Watch this space!

What is your best memory of your high school years?

I have many great memories from my high schooling years, from mission trips to being surrounded by an excellent group of peers with high visions and goals, to seeing the results of my hard work graduating with no less than a high achievement in all of my subjects.

What has been your most life-defining moment to date?

To just pick one moment that has been the most life defining is very difficult, but if I had to choose one it would probably be the time I went for my first solo flight. The feeling of having all the hard work pay off, and knowing that I am 100% responsible for and in control of the aircraft is indescribable.

Do you have an amazing life story to share? Send in your stories to feedback@mothergoosemedia.com.au

For more information on Lachlan’s journey and fundraising events, visit www.wingsaroundtheworld.com.au and www.facebook.com/WingsAroundTheWorld

Written by

Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City
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