A round-the-world trip, a world record, and two months away from mum and dad. All dreams for the average teenager, but Merimbula’s Ryan Campbell has spent two years making them his reality.
Campbell, 19, will take off in his Cirrus SR22 aircraft on June 30, in an attempt to become the youngest person to fly solo around the world.
The record, held by a 21-year-old from Malaysia, is about to be broken by a 20-year-old American pilot who is just days away from completing his flight.
One of Campbell’s driving motivations to complete his 24,000-nautical mile (44,500-kilometre) journey – dubbed ‘‘Teen World Flight’’ – is to not only be the youngest, but also the first teenager, to circle the globe solo.
‘‘There’s not many firsts left in aviation, so to be the first of something is pretty great,’’ Campbell said.
‘‘For a pilot, the best way to explain a round-the-world flight, it’s like a mountain climber getting to climb Mount Everest.’’
Dave Lyall, managing director of Sports Communication Australia and member of Campbell’s support team, says more people have gone into space than flown solo around the world.
Campbell began planning his trip at the age of 17. With a commercial pilot for an uncle and his dad and two brothers also in aviation, flying is in Campbell’s blood. He began flying lessons at 14, and became Australia’s youngest pilot on his 15th birthday.
It was this confidence and love of the air that compelled Campbell to reach out to a fellow Australian flight pioneer – Dick Smith, listed as ‘‘safety advisor’’ on the website for Campbell’s flight (www.teenworldflight.com).
It was only after securing Smith’s support that Campbell decided to tell mum and dad about his grand plan.
‘‘It just snowballed from there,’’ he said. But planning a circumnavigation of the globe is not cheap or easy – his project has run to $250,000, and with a flight plan including Kiribati, Hawaii, Iceland, Egypt and Oman, has involved overcoming challenges including visas, flight paths, and even shipping his own plane fuel to some of the pit stops.
Campbell’s flight also aims to raise funds for Dare 2 Dream, a collaboration between Teen World Flight and World Youth International to fund scholarships for young Australians to embark on overseas volunteering missions. The goal is $50,000 for 10 scholarships.