Teen launches plan to be youngest round-the-world solo pilot
TEEN pilot Lachlan Smart was just a toddler when his mum Vanessa Sprague used to take him to the Sunshine Coast Airport to watch the planes take off and land.
They would sit in the departures lounge, in the days before passengers needed to clear security checks to do so, share a bucket of hot chips and marvel at the aircraft.
Those early moments of quality time have proved to be the roots of a world record breaking plan.
Mr Smart hopes to take off from Sunshine Coast Airport in a Cirrus SR22 plane in June next year and fly around the world by himself.
"It's a four-seater but we are taking out the back seats to put fuel tanks in," the 17-year-old said.
If successful, he will become the youngest person in the world to achieve the ambitious feat.
The record is currently held by American Matt Guthmiller, who was 19 when he completed the trip last year.
Mr Smart said his first flight, on his 14th birthday, piqued his interest in becoming a pilot.
He would hound his dad Will Smart to get him as many lessons as possible and by the time he was 16, he was in the air on a weekly basis.
In April last year he completed his first solo flight and gained his private pilot's licence a few months ago.
His journey next year will take him across the Pacific Ocean to the US, then from Canada to Scotland and home past Egypt, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
The longest stretch will be a 12 to 14 hour flight from Hawaii to California.
Fatigue and aircraft management will be key.
"There's no point doing the trip if it's not going to be safe," Mr Smart said.
He hopes to encourage other youths to set goals and work to achieve them.
His own astronomical goals go far beyond the world record attempt.
"If an 18-year-old kid from the Sunshine Coast, Australia, can fly around the world, why can't I take on the space race as well?"
He said that would ideally be as a commercial pilot for companies offering space travel, including Virgin Galactic.
But he and his team have a lot of preparation to do before those dreams can be realised.
"I am a little bit nervous but that is just due to the size of the trip."
It was a sentiment shared by his mother.
"At the moment I'm really excited but if you ask me this time next year, I'm sure it will be nerves then," Ms Sprague said.
"It is mind boggling, but he is so determined.
"He can do it."