Zara Rutherford, 19, has shown that there is no age to realize your dreams. Passionate about aviation since her childhood, the Belgian-British pilot completed a solo circumnavigation of the globe, becoming the youngest woman to achieve this feat. On January 20, Zara completed her microlight journey to cheers and in front of a swarm of cameras installed on the airstrip in Kortrijk (Courtrai), Belgium, from where she left on August 18, 2021.

After 155 days on board, she has flown over 5 continents, 52 countries and covered 51,000 km of fabulous landscapes of mountains, seas and deserts. By opening the cockpit of her ultralight two-seater, with her white cap, the experienced aviator was all smiles as she greeted the crowd of her supporters, who had come in large numbers to congratulate her on having achieved what she admits to be “an absolutely unbelievable”. As in the mythical Jules Verne novel that inspired so many adventurers, Zara initially planned to go around the world in 80 days.

Zara flies under visual flight rules, solo and unassisted

He was originally supposed to have 70 stops, 19 days off and thought he would complete his challenge in early November 2021. But it actually took him 5 months due to administrative constraints and pandemic-related restrictions that made it difficult to obtain their visas and flight authorizations. Not to mention some mechanical problems and bad weather conditions.

“I thought of airmen like Amelia Earhart [a famous American aviator who disappeared in 1937, while trying to complete a world tour by air, Editor’s note] and, now that I have almost circumnavigated the world, I can’t imagine doing what she did. I have several GPS systems, satellite communications and (sometimes) decent weather forecasts!” says Zara, who flies under visual flight rules, in alone, without assistance. Fascinating, his logbook kept on Instagram was followed by 90,000 subscribers. When she set foot on the Belgian tarmac, she was “impatient to find her family”.

“I hope to encourage girls and young women to get into aviation”

Aviation is also a legacy: “I’ve been flying for as long as I can remember.” Her father, Sam Rutherford, is a former army helicopter pilot and her mother, Beatrice De Smet, a former lawyer, holds a private pilot’s license. With her feat, Zara “really hopes to encourage girls and young women to pursue aviation, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. […] Only 5% of professional pilots today are women today.”

“It’s actually a dream gap, she insists, because our dreams are shaped from early childhood through the fairy tales and role models we are exposed to. Boys learn through toys , street names, history lessons and movies they can be scientists, astronauts, CEOs or presidents. Girls are often encouraged to be beautiful, kind, helpful and sweet. With my flight, I want to show young women that they can be daring”, declares the one who aspires to become an astronaut. Zara is not in the habit of deviating from the trajectory she has set herself.

TESTIMONY. “Girls are often encouraged to be beautiful”, at 19 she made history

Zara Rutherford © INSTAGRAM FLY.ZOLO

Maria T.
Maria T.

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