First 19 year-old to fly solo around the world


Courtesy of CBS News

Aislinn Jones, Staff Reporter

Zara Rutherford is a 19-year-old Belgian-British pilot who has set a world record as the youngest woman to fly solo around the world, making her complete trip a total of 155 days, across all five continents and 195 countries. 

Rutherford’s parents, Sam Rutherford and Beatrice De Smet, are both pilots and have been flying her in small planes since she was six years old. By the time she turned 14, she was flying herself on short flights. The day of her departure was August 18, 2021, that Thursday at Kortrijk airport in western Belgium, the weather was nice and ready for take-off. The adventure was estimated to take up to three months, but with restless, bad weather and visa problems, her flight was extended to two more months. 

U.S. News stated, “In her trek of more than 52,000 kilometers (28,000 nautical miles), she stopped over five continents and visited 41 nations.” In her route she experienced normal weather over Russia, keeping clear of the California wildfires and the North Korean airspace. U.S. News also claimed that her flight contained many “[thrills] from the frozen tundra in Siberia to typhoons in the Philippines and the stark beauty of the Arabian desert.” 

She returned safely from her journey on January 18 back in the western Belgium area. Back on land, she claimed that she would never fly solo around the world again, though she had amazing moments, there were times she had feared for her life. Rutherford spoke to the press and stated there were times where the turbulence got bad and she could not see anything.

Even though Rutherford’s experience was for the thrill and excitement of doing something ‘crazy’ before college, she also wanted to encourage women to work in the science and technology field, as well as infuse young women and girls with the spirit of aviation.