Anchorage stopover: 17-year-old flying solo around the world

In Alaska Travelgram, Aleutian Islands, AV Geek, Dutch Harbor by scott

Mack Rutherford, 17, flew in from Dutch Harbor on Tue., Aug. 2, on his way around the world. John Dahlen of the Alaska Airmen’s Association welcomes him to Anchorage.

Mack Rutherford, 17, has been doing some hard traveling lately.

On July 29, the teenage aviator left Kuchiro, Japan on a planned ten-hour hop to Adak Island in the Aleutian Chain.

But—headwinds will happen. So he touched down on Attu Island instead. Next stop: Shemya (aka “Eareckson Air Station”) for some gas, before continuing on to Adak Island.

For those of you unfamiliar with the distance between islands in the Aleutian Chain, it’s about 450 miles from Attu, to Shemya and on to Adak. 

Mack took a well-deserved rest before continuing on to Dutch Harbor, where he cleared customs. By the way, that’s another 445 miles in his one-person “Shark” Ultralight. The plane burns 17 litres of fuel per hour and Mack has two extra fuel tanks jammed in back of him in the cockpit.

Tuesday’s journey, from Dutch Harbor to Anchorage, was 795 miles. 

According to Mack’s host, John Dahlen of the Alaska Airmen’s Association, the aviator plans to rest for a couple of days before taking off for Ketchikan.

Mack travels with a couple of stuffed companions: “Striped Pony” and “Shark”.

If the name “Rutherford” sounds familiar, it’s because Mack’s sister Zara Rutherford barnstormed her way up the Inside Passage last September. She was on her quest to become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.

As Zara said then, “Chances are something will go wrong (on the flight). You have to learn to react and improvise.”

After she left Anchorage for Nome, the weather closed in for more than a week. After she got to Siberia, she was delayed by the weather for several more weeks.

For his part, Mack has been delayed mostly by visa-related paperwork. He spent six weeks in Heraklion (capital of the Greek Island of Crete) and another six weeks in Dubai.

Mack chose to fly to the east, where Zara flew to the west on their respective round-the-world itineraries.

“I’ve always wanted to do something special in aviation,” said Mack when asked why he embarked on this quest. “And of course I was inspired by Zara.”

After leaving Anchorage, Mack will make his way down the coast: Juneau, Ketchikan and on to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Follow Mack’s progress online and learn about his amazing adventures:

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