Teenager breaks single-handed round-the-world record at Skyhawk


Ludlow, a qualified private instrument pilot who obtained a glider certificate at the age of 14, was 18 and 150 days old when he emerged victorious from the Skyhawk with his arms raised in the air. A small crowd of family, friends and supporters greeted the young pilot in person while a group of social media followers posted compliments via Facebook and Instagram. The 44-day trip through 16 countries and four continents surpassed by almost two weeks the record set by one of Ludlow’s mentors, Mason Andrews of Louisiana, who performed his own solo circumnavigation in a Piper Lance at the age of 18 years and 163 days. old in 2018.

“Congratulations and enjoy the experience,” Andrews told AOPA, wishing Ludlow the best. “It’s a very long trip, so enjoy being back and enjoying all the things that will come of it, because it only happens once.”

Andrews, now 21 and preparing to open a flight school in Monroe, Louisiana, said he was “happy to help” during the planning stages to instill in Ludlow the culture of safe travel . He warned Ludlow of the “enormous pressure” that could accompany a record-breaking flight attempt and reiterated to him that “safety comes first, as is the case with all aviation”. Andrews added that complications on such a long trip away from home can arise from tackling a variety of unfamiliar flight environments on your own. “Sometimes [during Ludlow’s flight] I reached out to her and said, “The most important thing is that you get to your destination safely” and without incident. “I was happy to be able to do it for him.”

Travis Ludlow, 18, is touring the world for 44 days in 16 countries aboard a diesel-powered Cessna 172 Skyhawk.  Photo courtesy of Travis Ludlow.

Ludlow’s father Nick said his son’s 26,675-mile trip included 64 stops, with 12 days of rest and 235 hours of flight time, averaging almost 840 miles per day.

“This is good news!” said Earthrounder Shinji Maeda, 41, who praised the young pilot’s accomplishments. Maeda, a one-eyed pilot based in Snohomish County (Paine Field) in Everett, Wash., Made a similar trip on June 11 in a modified Beechcraft Bonanza. Ludlow and Maeda tried to connect as they both flew solo across Russia in June, but the weather called off the date attempt.

Maeda said “flying around the world is serious business” and warned other young pilots considering a solo global attempt to acquire skills first, a mantra he learned from around the world. 2016, Adrian Eichhorn, from Virginia.

During the circumnavigation, Ludlow said one of the biggest challenges was dealing with the isolation. “I miss all of my friends, family and girlfriend too. I miss flying with people on the plane. All the time I’m alone, sometimes it’s eight hours straight. This is probably the hardest part of the trip, the loneliness.

Ludlow picked up the plane in the Netherlands, returned to England, then traveled east, over Europe, Russia, Alaska and the continental United States before returning to its home airfield in Marlow, England. Along the way, he visited the AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Md., Where the aviation community rallied to help him overcome a hotel check-in issue because Ludlow had less 21 years old. me “achieve the goal of becoming the youngest pilot to fly solo around the world.

After Maryland, Ludlow continued along the east coast through Canada, Greenland and the Atlantic Ocean to Iceland. A six-hour flight across the North Atlantic from Reykjavik to Benbecula, Scotland, gratefully returned Ludlow to European shores on July 6. A fire engine water jet signaled its arrival at Donegal Airport in Carrickfinn, Ireland. From there, he flew south to Cork, Ireland, to initiate a planned flight to Morocco “just to say I touched Africa”. However, a malfunction with the Global Positioning System in the air sent Ludlow back to Cork Airport repairs.

“Today I had my first failure on my plane, when I lost the GPS on departure,” he wrote on Instagram on July 8. “I thought it would resolve, but it didn’t and I had to go back to Cork. It turned out to be a broken antenna… it must have been the polar bear incident at Narsarsuaq.

After the interview, he continued south to Africa then returned to the European continent via Algeria, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. “What an incredible day I had yesterday,” he posted on Facebook on July 10. “2 continents, 4 countries, 3 stages, 3 different views, the magnificent Mediterranean Sea. To top it off, an evening flight over the Pyrenees, my highest flight ever.

On the eve of his final leg, Ludlow took the time to congratulate Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson for performing a space flight and the English football team for facing Italy in a Cup showdown. from Europe. Once the world tour was over, he thanked “the most incredible welcome from friends, family and supporters” and acknowledged them for the “incredible support” he received during the trip.

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