Teenage pilot Ryan Campbell has crossed back over the Australian coastline as he closes in on the world record for the youngest person to fly solo around the globe.
The 19-year-old from Merimbula left Wollongong on June 30 on his 32-stop, 15-country odyssey and will complete the journey, dubbed the Teen World Flight, by returning to Illawarra Regional Airport in Wollongong next Saturday morning.
The last few weeks of Campbell’s 70-day adventure have been plagued by route changes, delays and various other challenges triggered firstly by his decision to bypass a planned stopover in Egypt due to that country’s political crisis. Other issues around permits to overfly land in some countries availability of avgas aviation fuel.
After almost 200 hours in the air, with legs ranging from 15 minutes to 15 hours, Campbell said crossing the Australian coastline in Broome was one of the sweetest moments of the trip.
“When I came across the coast and was over Australia again I had this overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and contentment,” Campbell said.
“I actually had to do a circuit over Broome because a Royal Flying Doctor Medivac jet was diverted there just ahead of me with a medical emergency but that just added to the story and the challenges this record attempt has presented.
“I can smell my final destination of Wollongong but I know I have to continue to concentrate and stay on top of my game.
“I can not wait to touch down back in Merimbula on Sunday, the day after the record is broken and see all of my family and friends.”
From Broome, following a scheduled maintenance check, Campbell will head to Alice Springs, then Broken Hill before the final leg into Wollongong next weekend where he will be welcomed by thousands of well-wishers and an aerobatic display from the world renowned RAAF Roulettes.
American 21-year-old Jack Wiegand, who set the standard earlier this year, holds the world record for the youngest pilot to circumnavigate the globe solo.