Belgian-British pilot Zara Rutherford has set a world record as the youngest woman to fly solo around the world at 19 years old. Touching down in western Belgium after her 155 day journey, she has dedicated the flight to all young women trying to succeed in male-dominated industries like aviation and the engineering sectors that make it possible.
Rutherford comes from a family of flyers and has been traveling in small planes since she was six. She began flying herself at age 14, and from there, her dreams only grew. While the flight was supposed to take three months, she was often kept grounded by both bad weather and visa issues in an adventure, including weeks isolated in the Siberian village of Ayan, typhoons in the Philippines, and California wildfires. Rutherford’s flight followed Visual Flight Rules, meaning relying largely on sight only and forgoing more sophisticated systems that may have aided her progress. She stopped in over five continents and visited 41 nations in a journey of over 32,000 miles.
Her record overtakes the one set in 2017 by Shaesta Waiz, an Afghan-American aviator who completed a global flight at the age of 30. The overall record for the youngest pilot to complete the trip in a single-engine aircraft is still held by Briton Travis Ludlow, who made his solo trip last year as an 18-year-old. Rutherford wants her accomplishment to be for more than just herself, instead instilling young women with an enthusiasm for aviation, mathematics, engineering, and technology. To those pursuing their own dreams, she says, “Go for it. It takes a lot of time, patience, a lot of work, but it is incredible.”
Have a story tip? Message me at: http://twitter.com/Cabe_Atwell