“You don’t have to be old to tackle huge endeavors.”

-Matt Guthmiller

Matt Guthmiller has spent his life looking for fresh challenges to tackle and new obstacles to overcome. Summer 2014 he successfully attempted his latest and greatest when he began the first leg of his forty-four day, 30,000 mile journey, which took him everywhere from New York City to London, Greece, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Hawaii and more, as he sought to become the youngest person ever to fly solo around the world.

“Nothing is impossible,” says Guthmiller. “And I’ve never been the kind of person to just hang around and wait for great things to happen. If you really want to achieve something great you have to go out and get it.”

IMG_4554 - Version 2While not quite a scene out of William Pene du Bois’ novel 21 Balloons, Matt’s incredible journey does have similar origins. His love of flying dates back even to before the hundreds of hours he logged on flight simulator games as a child, but the impetus for this latest adventure came when, while browsing the internet for fresh flights to attempt, he came across an AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) article about California’s Jack Wiegand, who set the record in 2013 by circumnavigating the globe at the age of 21.

“I immediately thought ‘I can do that,’” said Guthmiller.

Like du Bois’ character William Waterman Sherman, who simply decides to hop in a hot air balloon and take off for a year, Limitless Horizons was something that Guthmiller just made up his mind to attempt. Slightly more planning went into Guthmiller’s voyage, but a strong sense of adventure and determination pervades both narratives. However while Sherman set out with no particular destination or goal in mind, Guthmiller not only had a destination but a goal larger than even setting a Guinness World RecordTM.

“Setting a record is exciting, but records are made to be broken,” says Guthmiller. “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.”

  • 1981 Beechcraft A36 Bonanza — N367HP
  • 2800nm range (with ferry tanks); 155-175 knots at cruise; 11,500 feet (roughly optimal cruise altitude)
  • 6 seats (2 seats for the trip)
  • One 300 horsepower Continental IO-550-B engine; retractable landing gear
  • Full glass cockpit (Garmin G500, dual GTN-750s, GSR-56, GDL-69A, GTS 800, ADS-B out)

Matt Guthmiller

  • 19-year-old freshman at MIT from Aberdeen, South Dakota
  • Entrepreneur/software engineer
  • 500+ hours total time
  • Commercial pilot certificate
    • Single-engine land, Single-engine sea, Instrument airplane, Glider

Full Itinerary

San Diego; Aberdeen; New York City; St. John’s, Newfoundland; the Azores; London; Rome; Athens; Mersa Matruh, Egypt; Cairo; Aswan, Egypt; Abu Dhabi; Nagpur, India; Bangkok; Manila; Darwin, Australia; Noumea, New Caledonia; Pago Pago, Samoa; Honolulu; San Diego; Las Vegas (to remove the ferry tanks); San Diego (maintenance); Seattle; Aberdeen

My greatest goal with this flight is to inspire other people to attempt similarly ambitious endeavors, and the best tool for people to achieve their dreams is computer science. Yet, most elementary and secondary schools don’t even teach it, or at the very least treat it as an elective rather than something on par with math and other sciences.

Computers offer literally anyone the power to accomplish or build anything they want, and they’re only becoming more powerful and controlling more things. Additionally, studying computer science builds critical problem solving skills and opens the mind to the infinite range of possibilities that exists. It’s really rather difficult to fully articulate the enormous freedom and opportunity it represents.

Code.org is working to ensure that such an amazing tool is within the reach of every single student.

– Matt Guthmiller

Inspiration for all

By partnering up with educational charity Code.org, Limitless Horizons seeks to inspire young kids to achieve their dreams.

Code.org® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science education by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Its vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer programming. Code.org believes computer science should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra.

Their goals include:

  • Bringing Computer Science classes to every K-12 school in the United States, especially in urban and rural neighborhoods.
  • Demonstrating the successful use of online curriculum in public school classrooms
  • Changing policies in all 50 states to categorize C.S. as part of the math/science “core” curriculum
  • Harnessing the collective power of the tech community to celebrate and grow C.S. education worldwide
  • To increase the representation of women and students of color in the field of Computer Science.


Who is Matt Guthmiller?

Matt Guthmiller’s first solo flight on August 14th, 2011, was a quick trip around the airport in his hometown of Aberdeen, South Dakota, in a tiny, two-seat 1975 Cessna 150. But on May 31, 2014, Matt set out on a 44.5 day trip of over 30,000 miles in an attempt to become the youngest person to ever circumnavigate the globe on a solo flight. Born and raised in Aberdeen, Matt first began learning to fly at the age of 16, received his private pilot certificate on his 17th birthday, has gone on to earn his commercial pilot certificate and numerous ratings, and since logged more than 1100 hours in the air (500 when he started the trip).

IMG_4521“I’m always looking for new challenges and unique experiences, but this is the biggest challenge I will have conquered,” said Guthmiller before the trip. “Fewer people have flown solo around the world than have been to space.”

“Limitless Horizons” is a combination of both Guthmiller’s lifelong love of flying and his intense interest in computer science. A junior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) majoring in electrical engineering and computer science, Guthmiller is a self-taught software engineer who first began writing code in 5th grade. He started one of the very first iPhone unlocking businesses in 2007 before selling it to another company, and by high school he had moved on to producing algorithms that could predict oil prices and using supercomputers to analyze stock trades. During his senior year of high school, Guthmiller was a finalist for the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship before dropping out of that finalist round to go to MIT.

“With this flight, and with Code.org, I hope to inspire other young people to attempt things of similar magnitude by showing them what’s possible.”

Guthmiller’s plane of choice for his circumnavigation was a 1981 Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, a single-engine, low-wing plane with a 300 horsepower engine, six seats, and a normal range of about 1100 nautical miles (nm). For the flight four of the six seats were removed to make room for extra fuel tanks, bringing the range up to 2800nm. For the trip, the Bonanza cruised at approximately 160 knots (185 MPH).

Guthmiller departed San Diego with the extra fuel tanks on May 31, 2014, before stopping in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He then reached New York City and St. John’s, Newfoundland, before heading out over the Atlantic. The trip itinerary also included stops in the Azores, London, Rome, Athens, Cairo, Dubai, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, New Caledonia, Fiji, American Samoa, Hawaii, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Texas. Guthmiller arrived back in San Diego July 14 before heading home to Aberdeen, SD July 25.

All proceeds from “Limitless Horizons” will be donated to Code.org, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to expanding participation in computer science education by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.

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