The countdown is on for teen pilot Ryan Campbell of Broadwater, as he prepares to take off on a solo circumnavigation of the world this July.
He hopes to take the title from Swiss pilot Carlos Schmidt who completed his flight in 2012 at age 22.
Backing him are Australian entrepreneur and pilot Dick Smith and pilot Ken Evers, who did the trip in 2010 to raise awareness about malaria.
But it was Ryan’s family who sparked a passion for flying and have supported him from an early age.
At 15 he flew solo in an ultralight aircraft, upgrading his licence on his 16th birthday, and was licenced to fly commercially by age 17.
Ryan recalls the story of his grandfather who flew with pioneer Charles Kingsford-Smith in the Southern Cross in an early flight out of Bombala.
“My grandad was a little boy when his family was asked if they wanted to go for a flight with Charles Kingsford-Smith,” Ryan said.
“His Dad said no but his Mum said yes so the whole family went flying in the Southern Cross,” Ryan said.
“Grandad was hooked. “He became a private pilot and built up about 220 hours.
“I’m four months out from my trip now and the technology hasn’t changed much over the last five years but the original guys did it in an open cockpit with atlases.”
The round the world trip is about 200 hours long and will take over two months.
Ryan will visit 25 destinations, 15 countries and fly 45,000 kilometres.
“It’s more like 25 short flights, the longest is about eight hours from Hawaii to the US,” he said.
“I’ll fly a leg, have a rest day, and spend a day studying the next leg before I leave again.”
There are several landings that will have special meaning for him.
In Wisconsin, he’ll meet friends and family and attend the world’s biggest air show.
Planning has been underway for 18 months and a lot has happened regarding the plane, sponsorship and advocacy.
“I’ve been a bundle of stress in the last few months but now our position has changed a lot in the last two weeks,” he said.
“We have three major partnerships to be announced in coming weeks.
“What we are trying to do is raise enough money to hand out two scholarships at the end of the flight that will enable two teenagers to go overseas and give aid.”
Ryan and some of his team will host a fundraising dinner this Friday night at Club Sapphire, Merimbula.
Enjoy a meal and tunes by Andy O’Donnell and the Figments supported by Gary Carson Jones.
Tickets are $50 a head, for tables of 10.
RSVP to Judy Done on 0409 833 646 or email@example.com