MONROE — Mason William Andrews, 18, is training to be the youngest pilot to circumnavigate the globe.
The title is now held by Lachlan Smart, an Australian, who completed the 28,000-mile trip in 2016. His age at the time was 18 years and 234 days.
Mason said the original plan was to fly across the Atlantic to go on vacation in the United Kingdom.
“The more I thought about it, I figured I’d be the youngest person to ever do that, and that was true. And looking into the logistics and the range my plane would have to have and the avionics equipment it would need, I decided that might as well do the full circumnavigation for the world record,” he said.
The tentative departure date is July 9. He’ll start and end in his hometown, Monroe.
The route is The Great Circle over the north Atlantic, which will take him through New York and Canada to Iceland, through mainland Europe to Cairo, Egypt and on to Oman, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and island hopping with a leg from Hawaii to San Francisco.
The route will take 40 days, give or take a week.
“Ideally, I’d fly 10 to 12 hours a day. It’s going to be very weather-dependent. I’m certainly going to be spending at least a few days in certain places with bad weather,” Mason said.
He started flying in 2013 in hang gliders and non-powered aircraft. In 2014, he had his first flight at Monroe Regional Airport and decided he wanted to fly as a career.
Today, he’s majoring in professional aviation at Louisiana Tech University. By hours he’s a rising junior. He graduated high school a year early and spent his senior year of high school at Louisiana Delta Community College.
Mason said the project requires an immense amount of logistics, such as finding fuel and having the avionics necessary for long-range communication and navigation.
He said the long stretches over open water will require a lot of time at the controls. He’s practicing long legs in flight simulators as practice.
Through doing this, he most hopes that people learn about MedCamps of Louisiana. The free summer camps are for children with developmental and physical disabilities.
Mason has worked at MedCamps for two years and plans to act as a full-time counselor again in June.
“It’s something that’s really important to me, and I decided with the outreach and potential fundraising ability that I’ll have, it’s a good thing to put my resources towards,” Mason said.
So, what will come next?
After this, he said, there’s not a larger goal in aviation.
“A full-circumnavigation is pretty much as far and as long as you can stretch yourself and your equipment. The only thing I might think about is there’s another pilot who did a circumnavigation eastbound like I’m doing who is now working on a project to fly a north-south circumnavigation over both North and South poles,” Mason said.