World record attempt: teen clears Pacific

Merimbula's teenage pilot Ryan Campbell is well on the way to claiming his world record, after successfully clearing the most challenging leg of his round-the-world flight.

Ryan, 19, set off from Albion Park airport on June 30, aiming to become the youngest person to fly solo around the globe.

He landed in Van Nuys, California on Wednesday, after an almost 15-hour flight from Hilo, Hawaii. He is at the sixth stop of his 28-stop, 24,000-nautical mile (44,500-kilometre) journey dubbed "Teen World Flight".

"It's been a wild ride, very full on," Ryan said from his Californian hotel.

"It's a bit surreal. The whole Pacific Ocean is behind me, so that's a big box ticked."

The flight from Hawaii was meant to take only 13 hours, but strong winds made speed and fuel maintenance an issue. However, Ryan landed safely at Van Nuys airport, one of the busiest general aviation airports in the world, and has spent the last few days relaxing before the journey across America.

"Mum and dad were here when I landed, that was the first time I've seen them since I left. They gave me some new gear, and fresh clothes," he said.

Ryan also met one of his aviation heroes on the tarmac - American pilot Clay Lacy gave him a tour of the airport.

"He took us on a personal tour, it's hard to explain how exciting that was for me," he said.

"He was very excited about the flight. He's flown around the world before, he's done everything under the sun that a pilot can do."

Ryan has been on a diet of muesli bars, cereal snacks and Red Bull during the adventure, in which he hopped from Australia to Norfolk Island, American Samoa and Christmas Island, before stopping to check out volcanoes in Hawaii.

He will now skip across the United States, before beginning a trek through Europe and then on to the home stretch through Asia in late August.

"My body clock is doing backflips right now," he said.

Ryan is scheduled to land back in Wollongong, and claim his world record, on September 7. To follow his progress, see www.teenworldflight.com.

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