Teen circumnavigator visits Madison

Matt Guthmiller, the youngest person ever to fly solo around the world, spoke about his adventures to Madison teenagers. CONTRIBUTED
Matt Guthmiller, the youngest person ever to fly solo around the world, spoke about his adventures to Madison teenagers. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – At 18 years old, Matt Guthmiller set a world record by solo piloting an airplane around the world. Guthmiller spoke about his record-setting adventure with students at Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools.

Guthmiller, now 21, discussed his circumnavigation in a 1981 single-engine Beechcraft A36 Bonanza. He is the youngest person ever to accomplish this feat. Currently, Guthmiller is enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is majoring in electrical engineering and computer science.

Guthmiller told Madison teenagers “about his adventure and how he turned a dream into reality,” John Peck said. Peck works as Manager of Public Relations for Madison City Schools. “Students got a unique perspective on engineering, computer knowledge and entrepreneurship from a student barely older than them.”

FlyQuest, a Huntsville-based organization that promotes aviation and aerospace careers, coordinated Guthmiller’s visit on Jan. 11-12 to inspire area high school students. Guthmiller also appeared at East Lawrence High School.

“He wowed the audience with stories about the planning, overcoming the doubters and naysayers, plotting the route and raising funds largely through sponsorships and meticulous planning,” Peck said. Guthmiller also explained his navigational and communication equipment, required VISAs and pre-arranged fuel drops.

“Nothing is impossible,” Guthmiller said. “If you really want to achieve something great, you have to go out and get it. Setting a record is exciting, but records are made to be broken.”

Guthmiller’s actual goal is to inspire other young people to attempt ventures of a similar magnitude.

On July 14, 2014, Guthmiller completed his 45-day solo trip after visiting 23 locations in 15 countries on five continents. During his journey, he promoted computer science education.

He departed El Cajon, Calif. and traveled to South Dakota and New Jersey before flying to Newfoundland, Portugal, England, Italy, Greece, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, India, Philippines, Australia, New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa and Hawaii. He returned to the U.S. Mainland in California.

Founded in 2013, FlyQuest, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, trains students in a full-motion flight simulator, the only one in North Alabama.

For more information about Guthmiller’s journey, visit limitless-horizons.org or FlyQuest.net.

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