Matt Guthmiller is planning to fly around the world in a 1991 Bonanza (Boston Globe; Guthmiller’s site), departing May 27. He’ll be around 19 years and seven months old when done, thus becoming the youngest person ever to fly solo around the world. It turns out that Guthmiller is a pilot/renter at East Coast Aero Club (where I am a helicopter/Cirrus instructor) and has flown about 80 hours with us.
Reading about this while halfway through Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Centuryhas me wondering why a rich kid hasn’t crushed this record by more than two years. Here’s how it would work…
- age 14: build up about 300 hours flying with an instructor in Mom and Dad’s Cirrus SR22
- age 15: build up an additional 300 hours flying with an instructor in Mom and Dad’s single-engine turboprop, such as a TBM 900
- age 16: build up an additional 300 hours flying with an instructor in Mom and Dad’s Embraer Phenom 300 (single-pilot certified business jet); do some solo flying in the turboprop
- two weeks prior to 17th birthday: camp out at CAE in the Phenom 300 sim (at DFW Airport); call up Jeppesen and ask them to make all of the arrangements for a round-the-world trip (New Yorker says that they handle exotic destinations and projects with ease)
- 17th birthday: take Private airplane single-engine land checkride in the turboprop; take multi-engine land checkride and Phenom 300 type rating checkride in the Phenom 300 sim. Now the teenager has an FAA Private/multi/jet type certificate and can fly an N-registered airplane anywhere in the world.
- 17th birthday+1: depart on round-the-w0rld trip in Mom and Dad’s Phenom 300 (still air ferry range is about 2200 nautical miles, which means it could do all of the legs in Guthmiller’s planned trip given a west-to-east tailwind or, alternatively, cross the Pacific Ocean between Russian and Alaska).
- 17th birthday+5: arrive back at DFW reasonably well rested after about 65 hours of sitting in air-conditioned pressurized comfort watching the Garmin autopilot hold altitude and course
What’s wrong with this plan? We have a 900-hour pilot with 300 hours in type doing about 15 takeoffs and landings in a plane that practically flies itself and, more importantly, has an onboard restroom. If he or she gets lonely on the 4- or 5-hour legs and needs to keep in touch with Facebook friends, the Phenom 300 has built-in global Aircell Internet service. He or she can make calls to the Jeppesen dispatchers on the hard-wired Iridium phone and/or call Mom and Dad.
[I spoke with Matt Guthmiller by phone. He says that the organization keeping track of the “youngest circumnavigator” is Guinness Book and they require only that the distance be over 20,000 nautical miles, crossing every meridian. So the above plan with the Phenom 300 would qualify, in Guthmiller’s opinion, and the plane could be taken through Russia and Alaska so that the entire trip would be very comfortably within the plane’s normal range. The reason that Guthmiller is not going through Alaska is that 100LL gasoline is not available in Russia. Barrels would need to be shipped in ahead of time at a cost of about $50 per gallon.]