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MIT Student To Become Youngest Person To Fly Around World Solo

This article is more than 9 years old.

For young people, the end of the school year is often a chance to break the routine and do something different. Maybe it's a job. Or maybe, if they're really fortunate, it's a chance to do some traveling and see a bit of the world.

That's certainly the case for 19-year-old Matt Guthmiller. His plan is to see pretty much the whole world, all by himself. Wednesday, the rising MIT sophomore will to take off from San Diego, California, in a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza and head east — and then keep going. He'll make stops along the way, but his goal is to become the youngest person to fly solo around the world.

We caught up with Matt Guthmiller last week at Hanscom Field in Bedford, where he trained as a pilot. Here's Matt's complete itinerary.


Matt Guthmiller, pilot and rising sophomore at MIT. He tweets at @mattguthmiller.


On how he became interested in flying:
Matt Guthmiller: "It was just kind of one of those things that I'd always wanted to do. Growing up, I always played flight simulator games, always wanted to go eat out at the airport cafe and watch planes take off and land and whatnot. A few years ago I got bored one weekend in the summer and realized I'd be able to get my pilot's license in a few months when I turned 17. So I talked my parents into letting me go out and do a little intro flight. I'm pretty sure, at the time, they thought I was just going to do this little 20 minute flight and get it out of my system. Now, three years later, I'm going to fly solo around the world."

On his route:
MG: "I'll go from San Diego to my hometown of Aberdeen, South Dakota. Then, over to New York, up to Newfoundland, to the Azores, which are right kind of right in the middle of the Atlantic. Then, up to London, Rome, Athens, down to Egypt, Dubai, over to India and Thailand, then Manila in the Philippines, down to Darwin, Australia, over to New Caledonia, Samoa, Hawaii, San Diego, and then eventually back to Aberdeen."

On why he's doing this:
MG: "The thing that kind of gave me the idea was, I read an article, about this time last year, about a guy from California that was going to do it. He was going to be the youngest, and he ended up being 21. I just read this article and thought, 'Gee, I could do that.' And so I started looking into it and planning it and now I'm going to go do it. I think it's going to be a lot of fun, I think it's going to be exciting and hopefully I can inspire some other people to go out and do similarly ambitious things. Along with that, I'm working to support and kind of spread the word about computer science education worldwide. I think that computer science is a really a great tool to help people go out and achieve those things."

On his father's reaction:
Allen Guthmiller: "I thought, when he said, 'Well, I want to take lessons.' I thought, 'Well, I'll let him get his 20 hours in, or whatever you have to have to solo. 40 hours to get his license, and then he'll be done with it.' Then he said he wanted to get his instrument rating, then he wanted to get his seaplane, then he wanted to get his commercial and it just went on and on."

On how long this record will hold up:
MG: "I don't know. Frankly, I hope that me going out and doing something like this inspires other people to go out and do something similar. So, if that's going out and flying around the world and breaking my record, I think that'd be great."


Beta Boston: MIT Freshman Aims For Youngest Solo Flight Around The World

  • "Matt Guthmiller, a 19-year-old freshman at MIT, is combining his passion for computer science with his love of flying by taking a 28,000-mile solo flight around the world later this month. If he succeeds, he will become the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe on a solo flight."

This segment aired on May 27, 2014.


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