US teen pilot reaches India in world tour

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US pilot Matt Guthmiller (19), gestures as he speaks outside his single-engined Beechcraft A36 Bonanza aircraft at the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur on Thursday.

US pilot Matt Guthmiller (19), gestures as he speaks outside his single-engined Beechcraft A36 Bonanza aircraft at the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur on Thursday.

NAGPUR: A 19-year-old American attempting to become the youngest person ever to fly around the world solo reached India Thursday, more than a month into his aerial odyssey.

Matt Guthmiller, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), smiled and flashed a thumbs-up after he landed his single-engined Beechcraft A36 Bonanza aircraft in the city of Nagpur in Maharashtra state early Thursday.

“It’s been good, actually a lot of fun. I have been to some really interesting places. There have been a few small issues but overall it’s been fun,” Guthmiller told AFP by telephone. The bespectacled teen is set to cover 29,000 miles during his month-long journey, making 25 stops across 14 countries. He hopes to set a Guinness World Record by landing on July 8 in California, when he will be 16 days younger than Ryan Campbell of Australia, the current record holder.

Campbell was 19 years, seven months, and 25 days old when he arrived south of Sydney in 2013.
With more than 500 flying hours under his belt, Guthmiller has already zipped across the United States, Europe and the Mediterranean Sea, down through Egypt and onto the Gulf since he took flight in San Diego on May 31.

Guthmiller flew into Nagpur from Abu Dhabi where he said, “instead of aviation gas they gave me P4 engine oil. But it was all sorted out in the end.”

His next stops are Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, the Philippines, Australia and Samoa, where he said the weather can prove to be a challenge.

“I am going to a part of the world where monsoons can be an issue. The weather can really change from the time that I take off,” he said.

Guthmiller is raising money through sponsors and plans to donate all proceeds to Code.org, a non-profit organization that pushes for computer science and programming to be taught in schools.

“The goal is to raise $250,000. Cost of the trip is about $145,000. So I am looking at (donating) about $105,000 to Code.org,” he said.

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