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Teen attempts record-setting solo flight around the world

By Kevin Conlon, CNN
updated 10:32 PM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
MIT freshman Matt Guthmiller hopes to be the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe on a solo flight.
MIT freshman Matt Guthmiller hopes to be the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe on a solo flight.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 19-year-old Matt Guthmiller is on a solo flight around the world
  • If successful he will be the youngest American ever to do so
  • Flight plan will take 159 hours over 42 days

(CNN) -- "9 hours down, 150 to go."

It seems like any run-of-the-mill Facebook status update. But what its poster, Matt Guthmiller, is attempting is anything but routine. The 19-year-old is on a solo flight that he hopes will take him around the world.

If he completes it, he will become the youngest American ever to do so.

The "9 hours down" refers to the time it took the MIT freshman to fly Saturday from El Cajon, California, to Aberdeen, South Dakota, the first leg of his odyssey.

The "150 to go" marks the remaining hours he plans to fly over the next six weeks on a plan that will take the South Dakota native through Athens, Greece; Cairo; Bangkok, Thailand; Honolulu, Hawaii, and more.

"Setting a record is exciting, but records are made to be broken," Guthmiller said on a website dedicated to the voyage. "My real goal is to inspire other young people to attempt things of a similar magnitude. That's what I hope to accomplish with this flight."

If successful, Guthmiller will replace Jack Wiegand of Fresno, California, as the youngest American pilot to circumnavigate the globe alone.

In June 2013, Wiegand accomplished the feat at 21, according to Guinness World Records.

On Wednesday, Guthmiller plans to fly from Teterboro, New Jersey, just outside of New York City to St. John's in Newfoundland, Canada according to the flight itinerary he posted. It will be his final stop in North America until a planned touchdown in Hawaii more than a month later. If all goes as planned, Guthmiller will land his 1981 prop powered Beechcraft Bonanza back in Aberdeen on July 12 -- just 42 days after beginning the trip.

According to Guthmiller, the single-engine plane, which normally seats six, has a range of 2,800 nautical miles, can reach a speed of 175 knots, and has a maximum cruising altitude of 11,500 feet.

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