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Teen Pilot Becomes Youngest Girl to Fly Solo Around the World

Zara Rutherford completed the task and became a Guinness World Record holder.

By:  |  January 28, 2022  |    522 Words
GettyImages-1365840694 Zara Rutherford

Zara Rutherford (Photo by Olivier Matthys/Getty Images)

Most 19-year-olds spend their days preparing for college courses or finding a job. Those are noble goals – but not for Zara Rutherford. Instead, the ambitious teenager completed her pilot courses and successfully flew solo around the world. In doing so, she broke a record as the youngest female pilot to fly around the globe all by herself.

Who Is Zara Rutherford?

Born in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, Zara Rutherford is the daughter of Sam Rutherford and Beatrice de Smet. Her parents are both professional pilots, so there is no question where her love of flying came from. Rutherford completed her pilot courses at Winchester, England, and got her Professional Pilots License (PPL) at the age of 14. She announced her plans to circumnavigate the globe five years later at a press conference at Popham Airfield in Winchester. Her motivation to complete the flight wasn’t solely for her gain but also to help motivate young women.

GettyImages-1365840575 Zara Rutherford

Zara Rutherford (Photo by Olivier Matthys/Getty Images)

Rutherford said, “Growing up, I didn’t really see many female pilots or female computer scientists, those are two of my passions. So then I wanted to fly around the world, hopefully have other girls see me and think, I’d love to fly one day too.” She added that as well as inspiring more girls to get into aviation and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, she hopes “to encourage girls and young women to pursue their dreams.”

The Flight Around the World

Having announced her plans in July 2021, Rutherford was set to begin her journey on August 18. She left the ground in a Shark Aero microlight airplane from Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport in Belgium and started across to the U.K. From there, she traveled over Greenland to the east coast of the U.S. and then over the Caribbean and South America.

Her expedition continued over the west coast of the U.S. to Alaska. At that point, she had to stop to obtain a visa before continuing her adventure. Next, she covered Russia and Asia, where she made a few stops before moving on to Egypt. Finally, she was back in Europe. She landed in several European locations such as Crete, Slovakia, and Germany before finishing her trip.

zara rutherford plane GettyImages-1237851279

(Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Just after 1 p.m. on January 20, 2022, the teen pilot returned to the place she left 155 days earlier. She flew a remarkable 28,100 nautical miles. Rutherford reflected on her time in the sky by saying that there were some amazing moments and that the most challenging part was flying over Siberia because it was extremely cold.

Zara Rutherford is a courageous young girl with great determination and drive. Her trip around the world landed her a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. The previous female record holder, Shaesta Waiz, was 30 years old when she successfully flew around the world. The youngest male pilot to fly around the globe is Travis Ludlow, who was 18 at the time.

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