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Meet Zara Rutherford: The Youngest woman to Travel Solo Around the World

Meet Zara Rutherford

Zara Rutherford, a 19-year-old aviator touched down in the Belgian town of Kortrijk where her family, friends, well-wishers, and the media awaited her arrival. They claim that Zara is the youngest woman who has travelled the world alone in the cockpit. Zara went out for her mission on 18th August 2021 and returned on 20th January 2021 after travelling 52 nations all alone.

Zara Rutherford stated in a news conference, “It’s very strange being back here,”. She said that the entire journey was an epic with several stoppages in more than 30 nations. Every time she reached a destination, she wished to travel to more new places.

After landing on the Belgian airbase, she laughed and said, “I’d like to do nothing next week”. Zara Rutherford has Belgian and British nationality. She can speak English, Dutch and French. Both her parents are pilots too while her father flew for Britain’s air force. For Zara, Russia was huge and frozen. Her visit to Siberia was the ‘scariest’ for her since every industry people inhabited there and the temperature was below -30 degrees.

She made a remarkable record and dedicated it to her family and young women aspiring to succeed in male-dominated industries like aviation and fly techniques. She said, “Go for it. It takes a lot of time, patience, a lot of work, but it is incredible,”.

Who is Zara Rutherford?

Zara Rutherford is a teenage pilot and the daughter of two pilots. She likes to travel by aeroplane as she had seen her parents doing so since she was six years old. Zara started flying when she was only 14 years old. Since childhood, Zara had been dreaming to travel the world but it was impossible. She said, “I thought that it is too difficult, too dangerous, too expensive,”.

While her expenses were taken care of by contributions made and sponsorships, the remaining part of her journey was taken care of by herself. During her transition from high school to university, she had plenty of time. She added, “I thought, actually, this is the perfect opportunity to do something crazy and fly around the world,”.

Last year, Zara Rutherford had revealed how disappointed she was about the fact that only 5.1 per cent of pilots around the globe are female. “5 percent is such a small number, considering it’s a career where you basically get paid to travel around the world — obviously it’s work, but it’s an amazing career with amazing opportunities,” she told the news media.

Zara supports two charity organizations- Girls Who Code which encourages young females to study computer science and the other is Dreams Soar which backs women entering STEM fields. She hoped that once she travels the world alone, other women on this planet would get inspired and consider a career in the aviation industry. She said, “If you don’t try and see how high you can fly, then you’ll never know.”

Zara Rutherford travel experience

Zara’s one-seater Shark microlight aeroplane has been once filled with the stink of California flames. Sometimes, she was travelling alone internationally or in a barren country, with any possible rescue hours distant. She was forced to spend weeks alone in the remote Siberian town of Ayan, with no touch with her family or the outside world. Zara Rutherford, a Belgian-British teen pilot, overcame tropical storms, visa issues, and days of solitude in a remote Siberian town to become the world’s youngest woman to fly solo around the world.

On August 18, 2021, flyer Zara Rutherford climbed into her Shark ultralight aircraft to start on her dream of travelling the world. She arrived at Kortrijk- Wevelgem airport in western Belgium after 155 days and various hurdles, breaking 2 Guinness World Records throughout the course. She is not only the youngest woman to fly all over the world, but she is also the first woman to do it in a microlight aircraft. Couple that with the fact that she is the first Belgian to fly solo around the world. Her achievement won Zara a standing ovation upon her return. Zara Rutherford’s quest took her through 5 continents, 52 countries, and 52,000 kilometres.

Hurdles faced by Zara Rutherford during her solo travelling

When Zara started her venture, she thought that she would return by Christmas in 2021. But, visa issues and bad weather conditions in some countries kept her back for so long. On the way, she spent weeks in the isolated lands of Ayan, a tiny Siberian village that have almost no contact with the outside world. At one point, Zara fought to get a clear glimpse of land in California since the stench of flames filled her cockpit. She was also struck by the chilling wind in Russia while avoiding North Korean airspace carefully. Besides, she encountered typhoons in the Philippines also.

Around the course, Zara Rutherford covered around 28,000 nautical miles in the last few months. She halted in 52 countries situated on 5 continents. She said in an interview, “I would say the hardest part was definitely flying over Siberia — it was extremely cold. It was minus 35 degrees Celsius on the ground,”. She added, “If the engine were to stall, I’d be hours away from rescue and I don’t know how long I could have survived for.” Zara, the teenage aviator flew by Visual Flight Rules that required her to rely on sight only. This indeed slowed her progress as more sophisticated systems could have made her fly through clouds and dense fog. She said that there were times when she feared for her life and wished for a comfort zone just like in her house.

Zara Rutherford wants to be an astronaut

When asked about her future aspirations, Zara claimed that she wanted to become an astronaut besides travelling all around the world. She has FAA and UK private pilot licences along with microlight certificates from France and Slovakia. She became a member of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots in 2019 and has been a part since then. Shaesta Waiz, a 30-year-old American aviator who completed the tour in 2017, formerly held the distinction of youngest woman to fly around the world alone.

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