Youngest Solo Pilot to Circumnavigate the Globe, One of Australia's 50 Great Explorers, Plane Crash Survivor, Incomplete Paraplegic, and Best-Selling Author

Ryan Campbell

At a glance:

From a world record-breaking pilot to a paraplegic plane crash survivor, Ryan Campbell uses real-life stories and actionable takeaways to help build resilient, unstoppable teams.
Few people have encountered the extreme, polar opposites of success and tragedy that Ryan has, let alone by the age of 26. As the youngest person to fly solo around the world, Ryan’s life changed in an instant following a very serious light plane crash.  He survived against all odds and was admitted to a spinal rehabilitation ward as a complete paraplegic with no movement from his waist down.  Ryan proved his mental fortitude as a record-breaking pilot but demonstrated his mastery by learning to walk again and fighting his way back into the sky.  This gamut of human experience led Ryan to now sharing his own secrets on how to live life #TurbulenceTough. From the Mindset Toolbox to the 3 Step Checklist to Navigating Change – these tools allow individuals and organizations to build resiliency, adaptability and the pioneering spirit required to not only overcome and re-invent, but ride out the roughest bumps.


Born and raised in an Australian coastal town, Ryan discovered his passion at a very young age — flight. Aviation would be the dominant fixture in the young Australian’s life, providing some amazing but also traumatic, life-altering experiences.

As a 14-year-old fixated on becoming a pilot, Ryan took on a number of after school jobs to finance his flying lessons. Shortly thereafter, he went on to achieve his first prominent goal in life as he flew an airplane solo for the first time on his 15th birthday.  The passionately determined young man soon found himself researching a goal so lofty it had never been accomplished before—to fly a single-engine airplane solo around the world as a teenager.

The next two years of Ryan’s life would prove to be transformative. He was forced to grow up at a young age as he personally fundraised $250,000, trained, and planned for a world circumnavigation. Ryan made international headlines as he flew his way around the globe in a rented airplane, including a feature story on 60 Minutes, countless television appearances, radio, and print interviews. The world watched this young man chase his dreams. It was an expedition for the history books.

Ryan’s life blossomed as he was named one of Australia’s 50 Great Explorers, the 2013 Australian Geographic Young Adventurer of the Year, and finalist for Young Australian of the Year. Life after the world flight was all about awards, sharing his story through speaking engagements, and writing a book to be imminently published titled, ‘Born to Fly.’ The young kid from a normal, Aussie family even met The Royals. Life was quite good.

In an instant, Ryan’s life changed following a very seriously light plane crash in 2015. He survived against all odds and was admitted to a spinal rehabilitation ward as a complete paraplegic with no movement from his waist down.  With a further five breaks in his back and broken bones ranging from his face to his feet, Ryan needed to tap into everything he learned during his global expedition and  more. The biggest undertaking of his young life was just beginning.

Ryan is a master of adversity and an ardent believer that life is won and lost above the shoulders—your mind can be either your most powerful asset or the determinant of your failure. He proved his mental fortitude by making history as a record-breaking pilot but demonstrated his mastery by learning to walk again and fighting his way back into the sky.

Now based in Nashville, Tennessee, Ryan is equipped and eager to transform your organization with a unique, unpredictable, and uplifting keynote. Ryan is on a mission to make your organization soar!
  • TurbulenceTough: Building Resilient, Unstoppable Teams

    Much like unexpected turbulence, tomorrow’s challenges are entirely unknown. One thing we can be sure of, however, is the certainty of future storms. Successful organizations are fueled by resilient teams, prepared to not only ride out the bumps but efficiently harness adversity in order to fly faster and higher than ever before.

    Through an inspiring, roller coaster ride of real-life adventure and adversity, Ryan Campbell shares the tales and take-aways that inspire, equip and encourage the pursuit of your unique maximum potential. From a world record-breaking, 24,000-mile solo flight around the world to learning to walk and fly again as a paraplegic plane crash survivor, uncover the truths behind becoming TurbulenceTough from one of Australia’s 50 Greatest Explorers.

    In this session, attendees will learn how to -

    -Understand how adversity is an opportunity for growth
    -Adopt a system to track personal and team development
    -Efficiently extract, store and sharpen your most powerful resilience tools
    -Identify and operate to your own maximum potential
    -Understand why Bruce Springsteen was right; everyone needs a Pink Cadillac...
I had the great honor to hear Ryan Campbell speak at the 2021 OHIO SHRM HR Conference in August. What an amazing speaker.  The topic was “TurbulenceTough.”  I so enjoyed his words of wisdom as he recalled the highest achievement in his life, being the youngest pilot to fly around the world, followed later by a near life ending plane crash. Months and months in the hospital and rehab center taught him to be “turbulence tough.” Working now to present his story to as many audiences as possible he passionately shares his motivation with others, allowing others to be “Turbulence Tough.” If you have the opportunity to hear Ryan either in person or virtually I suggest you do so. P.S. Wait until you hear the story of his pink Cadillac!!

— Bonnie Thompson, SHRM

From the minute I talked to Ryan and heard his story, I knew that he was perfect for the OH SHRM conference and he did not disappoint.  Ryan was engaged with our attendees through the entire week, attending sessions and networking.  His closing Keynote was amazing and taught us all how to build our mindset toolbox.  What do we as individuals need to be resilient and TurbulenceTough?  He made us laugh, he made us cry and he was real!  I can't recommend him enough!

— Kim Robertson, Conference Chair

The impact Ryan had in helping us realize how often we deal with and navigate through change along with insights and tools on how to navigate through change was so valuable.  I left his talk better equipped and in search of my own Pink Cadillac!

— Fortune 500 Financial Services Firm

Ryan’s story is an example of someone that has determination, resilience and purpose. He knew he was born with purpose and was not going to let adversity stop him from fulfilling that purpose.  If anything, he took those challenges head-on which made his journey even more adventurous.  Truly inspiring!

— Ronda Cavanagh, Wawa

He’s the real deal. Thank you Ryan for speaking to my business, sharing your story and your lessons of perseverance and gratitude. You deliver a captivating keynote with stories that touched us at a deep emotional level. Your inspiration and positivity were infectious. I look forward to our continued journey together. In times like these, we need more Ryan Campbells in the world.

— Jerry Curtin- CEO, COR Wellness

I’ve been a speaker for over 30 years and I’ve seen them all. Ryan Campbell is something very special, indeed. Ryan grabbed my attention and never let go as his story captivated me as it does his audiences. Ryan’s presentation can elevate an entire event.  

— Joe Calloway Hall of Fame Speaker and 8 time author

It was a pleasure to have Ryan as a guest speaker at our product launch event. His storytelling was captivating

— Leon Mervis, Managing Director, Bremont Australia

Ryan has a natural ability to communicate with an audience with great humility and humor. Ryan is a natural choice when looking for a speaker

— Mark Rowe, General Manager, SAAA Australia

Your willingness to interact and talk with our clients certainly made the night a fun, enjoyable, and successful occasion.

— Martin Bros.

Ryan captivates an audience both young and old. I highly recommend him for your corporate event.

— Martin Ongley, National President at Ausfly

Elvis, Aretha, And Bruce Had It Right - Everyone Needs A Pink Cadillac

    Business is booming and the world is re-opening.  We can actually see the smiles on people’s faces.   So why are we still feeling burned out and exhausted? Ryan Campbell, the youngest person ever ... Read more

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