A BENDIGO teenager's world record started with a school assignment and took him 15,000 kilometres to the furthest ends of Australia.
A 15-year-old Solomon Cameron landed back in his hometown this month to become the youngest person to fly solo around the country.
The idea for the epic journey was sparked by a class assignment two years ago.
"It was very unserious planning, just something I was thinking about for when I was a bit older," Solomon said.
Then, as he trained for his pilot's licence, Solomon heard about a record for youngest solo flight around Australia.
"That's when I decided to give it a crack, to start planning and see if I could turn it into reality," he said.
Solomon stuck a map to a bedroom wall and started steadily plotting courses, searching for airports with long runways, fuel stations and everything else he would need to make the history books.
By the first Sunday of May he was flying over the Bass Strait on day one of his record bid, hitting a point too far to glide to land from, if his engines cut out.
His first day would take him south to King Island and then to Tasmania and the southern-most tip of Australia, near Bruny Island.
It was the only day he felt nervous.
"It was just that realisation I would be away from home for so long, and be quite independent for that time," Solomon said.
There was a two minute window when he would have had to land in water had his engines cut out.
"You try not to focus on that. And you are talking to the crews (on the ground) watching that area," he said.
It would take another few days in the air before he relaxed into his routine of flight, refuel and repeat, Solomon said.
"I think that even before that trip I was pretty independent, but as the trip went on I certainly became a bit more (so)," he said.
"I really enjoy the sensation of flying, of being able to look at all that scenery that's going by.
"It's a peaceful environment. It sort of takes you away from the stress of normal reality.
Flying is in Solomon's blood. His passion was born flying with his father Andrew.
"It's easy to underestimate the amount of work that he has done," Andrew said.
"Some kids play Fortnite - and spend hours doing it. Instead of doing that, Solomon learnt how to fly.
"He would get on his bike, come out here (to the Bendigo Airport), clean the planes and hang out with all these pilots."
It is that dedication, not the record, that makes Andrew so proud of his son.
"That's the grit. The story that comes out of this is that this (kind of achievement) is available to anyone," Andrew said.
Not everything went to plan during Solomon's 41 day journey.
In Forrest, a sparse and lonely stretch of sand and scrub in Western Australia, the plane's engine would not start.
The problem, thankfully, was that the engine was too cold. But there were bigger problems delaying his journey.
Solomon's run was beset by bad weather. He was grounded in Sale just two days after he first took off and had to wait week-and-a-half for the skies to clear.
"If I had gotten away from Sale a bit earlier I would probably been able to get through on the western side (of Australia) without much of a delay at all," he said.
Instead, Solomon was forced to wait another week-and-a-half in Western Australia for more bad weather to ease.
"If I was born a little bit later I probably have done it better, because of the timing of the seasons," he said.
"If I had flown in summer, during the wet season, if I had had to do a forced landing in Queensland there would have been no roads to touch down on. They would all be flooded.
"And also, I didn't want to be flying in all that bad weather."
Despite delays, Solomon saved time and fuel because of an "anticyclone" that formed deep inside the centre of Australia.
The weather system conjured a tail wind that pushed Solomon's plane much of the way around the rim of the continent.
Then, as suddenly as he had found himself climbing into the cockpit for day one of his journey, it was all over.
He touched down to a crowd of cheering friends and family two weeks ago.
"I was glad to be home, but I would have liked to have been back out there," he said.
"I still get the urge to go out flying, especially on days like this (Tuesday) when there's good weather."
Andrew says his son's focus now needs to return to school and catching up with his studies.
Solomon might agree, but he is hanging out for the chance to take to the skies for another adventure.
"Maybe we could go somewhere when it's a bit warmer, possibly up north in the springtime. I'd like to get away and have a good time with somebody else - not by myself. With Dad," he said.
Solomon has also been finalising work on funds he raised during his trip for Angel Flight - roughly $10,000 so far - and planning visits to schools to talk to students about his journey and how he got into aviation.
"I know a few people have started flying since I've completed the trip. I want to show people it is possible to achieve things," he said.
To find out more, visit www.solomanaroundaustralia.com.au
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