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Pilot Plans to Be Youngest Circumnavigator

  • Matt Guthmiller
    Matt Guthmiller perched atop the Bonanza he aims to fly around the world beginning May 27.

May 19, 2014 - Next week on May 27, Matt Guthmiller, 19, of Aberdeen, South Dakota, will embark on an around the world flight that could land him a Guinness World Record. Guthmiller, EAA 1133537, plans a May 27 departure from Gillespie Field in El Cajon, California, estimating to arrive back at the end of June after flying a total of 28,000 miles.

Guthmiller, a computer science freshman at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was inspired after reading about Jack Wiegand last year, who at 21 years old became the youngest pilot to fly solo around the world. Several months later that record was broken by Australian Ryan Campbell, 19, EAA 1001585. Both of those young pilots attended EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2013.

“I thought, ‘I could do that,’” he said after reading of Wiegand’s flight. He’s making final preparations to depart Gillespie Field in El Cajon, California, next Tuesday. If Guthmiller is successful by the planned end date of June 30, he’ll be the youngest person to fly around the world by a little less than two months.  Guthmiller also plans to attend AirVenture this summer and give a presentation about his adventure.

While setting a Guinness World Record would be exciting, Guthmiller’s true goal is to inspire other young people to do big things. “That’s what I hope to accomplish with this flight,” he said, calling it “Limitless Horizons.” It’s also a charitable mission designed to benefit Code.org, a 501c3 organization devoted to expanding access to computer science, particularly in underserved areas.

Guthmiller began writing computer code in the 5th grade and started one of the very first Apple iPhone unlocking businesses in 2007. By high school he had moved on to producing algorithms that could predict crude oil prices and using supercomputers to analyze stock trades.

He will fly a modified 1981 Beech A36 Bonanza (N367HP) with a Continental IO-550 engine. The plane is being specially outfitted with ferry tanks (rear seats will be removed to make room for them) giving the plane 2,800 nautical mile range at an expected cruise speed of 155-175 mph at 11,500 feet msl.

The aircraft, which is being leased from High Performance Aircraft of El Cajon, has a well-equipped glass panel including a Garmin G500, dual GTN-750s touch screen navigators, GSR-56 for weather, GDL-69A data link, GTS 800 traffic advisory system, and ADS-B out.

He is using Paramount Aviation Resources Group to help secure landing permits, overflight privileges, and to help him manage other issues that can challenge international private flights. The 28,000-nautical mile journey will include planned stops in Aberdeen, Teterboro, New Jersey, Newfoundland, and the Azore Islands. Other stops include London, Cairo, Rome, Dubai, and Honolulu. (Learn more about the flight itinerary on the Limitless Horizons website.)

Guthmiller has always been fascinated by aviation and took to computer simulators when he was younger. He started flight lessons at the Aberdeen Regional Airport (ABR) FBO, Hangar 9 in July 2011. Ten hours of dual training later, he soloed on August 14, and passed his checkride on his 17th birthday, November 29, 2011. Since then he’s added instrument, glider, and commercial single-engine land/sea ratings.

“Nothing is impossible,” Guthmiller said. “And I’ve never been the kind of person to just hang around and wait for great things to happen. If you really want to achieve something great you have to go out and get it.”

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