- Associated Press - Monday, July 23, 2018

MONROE, La. (AP) - A Louisiana teenager has begun his effort to become the youngest pilot to circumnavigate the globe.

The News Star reports Mason William Andrews took off Sunday from the Monroe Regional Airport.

Andrews is 18 years and about four months old. The flight should take between 30 and 40 days, so he’s got a chance to beat the record of Lachlan Smart, an Australian, who completed his flight in 2016 at the age of 18 years, 7 months and 21 days.

Andrews says weather is his biggest concern. He’s crossing the Atlantic on a more southern route than previously planned. He’ll go from Newfoundland, Canada to the Azores, a group of islands in the middle of the Atlantic.

He’s also crossing the Pacific over the furthest north route, which is shorter than crossing the Pacific at the equator. The newspaper reports that Andrews’ longest stretch of open-sea flying will be about 15 hours, when he flies from Japan to Alaska. So far the longest he’s spent flying is seven hours but he’s also practiced on the flight simulator at Louisiana Tech University.

Andrews studies professional aviation at the university. He told KSLA that he wants his trip to show kids they can follow their dreams.

“I want people to take away that really anybody can do something if they set their mind to it,” said Andrews. “So if you have a dream and a goal and you take action to make that goal happen, not just sit back and wait for it to happen, you can do that.”

He’s also hoping to raise awareness and money for MedCamps - a local summer camp that hosts children with physical and mental disabilities.

His father, Jeb Andrews, says they’ve prepared as much as possible, including going over his son’s plane with a “fine-tooth comb.”

“We feel very confident. He feels good about it. I think it’s going to be OK,” his father said.

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