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Teen becomes youngest pilot to circumnavigate the globe solo

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A teenage pilot has become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe alone after he touched down in the Netherlands earlier today. 

Travis Ludlow, aged 18 years and 149 days, has set a new Guinness World Record with his 25,000-mile solo flight which took him 44 days to complete.

The gruelling expedition saw the teenager, from Ibstone, Buckinghamshire, spend up to eight-hour days manning his single-engine Cessna 172 N5010 aircraft – sometimes travelling as far as 1,000 miles in a single day without stopping.

He beat the previous record-holder – Mason Andrews, from Louisiana, USA – who was 18 years and 163 days old when he completed his journey in October 2018. 

Travis Ludlow, aged 18 years and 149 days, has set a new Guinness World Record with his 25,000-mile solo flight which took him 44 days to complete

Travis Ludlow, aged 18 years and 149 days, has set a new Guinness World Record with his 25,000-mile solo flight which took him 44 days to complete

The gruelling expedition saw the teenager, from Ibstone, Buckinghamshire, spend up to eight-hour days manning his single-engine Cessna 172 N5010 aircraft

The gruelling expedition saw the teenager, from Ibstone, Buckinghamshire, spend up to eight-hour days manning his single-engine Cessna 172 N5010 aircraft

Travis set off on his world record attempt journey from Teuge in the Netherlands on May 29 – just 44 days ago – after coronavirus delayed his original take-off date in June 2020.

His route, which started and finished in the Netherlands, saw him stop in 13 countries around the world – Netherlands, Poland, Russia, USA, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, UK, Ireland, Spain, Morocco, France, and Belgium.

He was also able to receive his second coronavirus jab during his journey, when he stopped in Texas, USA.

In order to break the world record, Travis’ route had to cover at least 24,520 miles – a distance he surpassed last Friday as he flew the 1,300 miles from Donegal in Ireland, to Gibraltar in southern Spain.

He said: ‘Landing in Gibraltar was a dream come true. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to fly into.

‘It was also the same day I reached a total of 24,972 miles flown overall – which is 71 miles more than the circumference of the Earth at the equator.

‘So it was two major milestones in one day.’

His route, which started and finished in the Netherlands, saw him stop in 13 countries around the world

His route, which started and finished in the Netherlands, saw him stop in 13 countries around the world

He added: ‘I was also really excited to get to go to Russia earlier on in my trip. I had a lot of fun there.

‘When I was in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s third largest city, I got to go for dinner at the British Consulate in Russia, which really made me feel like a VIP.’

And only being able to fly at a maximum altitude of 16,000 feet in his tiny aircraft meant Travis was treated with some spectacular views during his flights.

He said: ‘It was amazing. Some of the views I got to see were absolutely awesome.

‘I think the best bits were flying over the Canadian Rockies, and also over the Siberian wilderness – it was really striking.’

But his flight was not all smooth sailing as he had to contend with all weathers – including thunderstorms, snow, and dramatic mountain air that caused his plane to plummet over 2,000 feet in just five seconds.

Travis set off on his world record attempt journey from Teuge in the Netherlands on May 29 - just 44 days ago

Travis set off on his world record attempt journey from Teuge in the Netherlands on May 29 – just 44 days ago

Only being able to fly at a maximum altitude of 16,000 feet in his tiny aircraft meant Travis was treated with some spectacular views during his flights

Only being able to fly at a maximum altitude of 16,000 feet in his tiny aircraft meant Travis was treated with some spectacular views during his flights

He said: ‘It was really tiring – after a few weeks up there by myself all day every day, the loneliness really started to hit me. I did miss my family and friends quite a lot.

‘But luckily, I had some great teams of people meeting me at a lot of the airports when I landed – and some really great hosts when I stopped in the USA for a few days after my second jab.’  

Travis’s proud father Nick Ludlow, 59, said that the family were thrilled with his accomplishment.

He said: ‘It’s a massive achievement but I never thought he wasn’t going to do it. Travis has been doing amazing things for quite some time now. If anyone’s going to do this sort of thing it’s him. He’s that type of kid.’

Travis earned his black belt in kickboxing aged 12 and completed a triathlon using a unicycle when he was a teenager – but it was flying that really captured his heart.

‘He came to me at the age of 10 with this crazy idea. He flew a glider on his 14th birthday and it just escalated.

‘There are no pilots in the family, Travis is the only one. That’s where his heart is.’ 

Travis will fly back to arrive in the UK at 5.30pm today where he will be reunited with father, mother Loryn, 52, sister Charlie, 17, and brother Luka, 13.

Nick said: ‘Travis wants a Nando’s so we’ll take him there tonight. We need to fatten him up because he’s lost some weight.

‘We’re just going to be pleased to have him back.’    

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