EBACE2023 Career Day Offers Advice for Achieving Lofty Goals

25 May 2023

A presentation by Mack Rutherford, who at 17 became the youngest person to fly solo around the world, kicked off Career Day at the 2023 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE2023) with important messages of perseverance and reaching for your dreams.

By the time Rutherford launched his record-setting flight in March 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine had already significantly altered his planned route around the globe. After diverting around the closed airspace, his team had unexpected difficulties securing an exemption to fly in Japan.

Rutherford wound up spending his birthday in Dubai, waiting for the exemption to come through. When he finally made it to Japan, he encountered another curious situation: approval to fly in Russian airspace, which would significantly ease his flight over the Pacific Ocean.

“I’d be able to fly much shorter legs and a much safer route,” Rutherford said. “The problem was the only way I’d be allowed to fly in Russia would be by writing a letter of gratitude to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. This was not ideal.

“I was just a guy trying to show that young people can make a difference and make their dreams come true,” he continued. “By accepting this, I would instantly become political, and [my message] might no longer be as valid as it would be otherwise.”

Instead, Rutherford opted to fly direct from Kushiro, Japan bound for Adak, Alaska. However, after 10 hours in the air – his longest leg of the entire RTW flight – unexpected headwinds forced Rutherford to touch down short of his destination, at an abandoned U.S. Coast Guard base on Attu Island – home to a runway, a lone cabin and little else.

“I’m on a completely uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere [with] a few Oreos to eat for supper,” he recounted. “But I feel absolutely incredible. I’ve actually been able to cross the Pacific Ocean. And for the first time on my journey, it seems like I might actually be able to make it work.”

Rutherford touched back down in Sofia, Bulgaria five months and one day after starting his journey. The experience provided him with new perspectives on achieving a seemingly impossible goal.

“If I had known the challenges I would face before setting off, there’s no way I would have flown around the world,” he told students. “[But] when you’re actually in the moment and you can see your goal in front of you, you’d be surprised with how much you can push yourself to make what you want to achieve happen.”

Students Benefit from Firsthand Industry Perspectives

Following the presentation, students had the chance to participate in roundtable discussions with industry professionals who offered advice for those seeking their own entries into business aviation, even without any prior experience.

“My own background was in finance and logistics,” said Fredrik Øygard, chief operating officer at AAP Aviation Ground. “I quickly discovered aviation shared some similarities to that business; it’s dynamic and that appealed to me.”

CAT Aviation’s Patrick Müry started with the company in 2013 as a flight dispatcher, before moving to charter sales and, today, as a second officer on the Dassault Falcon 2000.

“Just showing that you’re curious and that you have initiative to put in the work, and that you’re willing to learn and to take on more responsibilities, are very important attributes,” Müry shared. “Our CEO saw that I was doing a good job and that I was catching on quickly, and that opened up more opportunities for me.”

Victor, a recent university graduate, said he came to EBACE to network with others with different backgrounds and perspectives. “I want to meet with people and companies, talk about opportunities and get a better view of what’s really going on in the industry,” he said.

Another recent graduate, Apash, has experience working at a major international airport. He wanted to attend EBACE2023 to learn more about careers in data collection and dissemination in business aviation.

“My initial plan was to become a pilot, like every other kid,” he said. “But after meeting people in different subcategories of the industry, I found that aviation business analytics is something that I’m really interested in. I see a lot of scope in the digitalization of the industry, and there’s going to be a need for people who are specialized in it.”