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19-Year Old Youngest Woman to Fly the Globe, Solo

Belgian Teen Completes World Tour in Ultralight in 155 Days

Zara Rutherford, 19, has officially completed her around-the-world flight and become the youngest woman in history to complete the voyage alone in a small aircraft.

Rutherford took her Shark Aero Ultralight around the world in 155 days, or just over 5 months. Zara says she wants to encourage young women to pursue their dreams and reduce the gender gap in aviation as well as in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

The Young woman set off from Belgium in August of 2021, heading westward across the Atlantic before stopping by Iceland and Greenland. Her trip then took her through a succession of North America, then the Caribbean to Columbia, then north again through the Alaskan Bering Strait into Russia.

After, she passed through South Korea, Indonesia, India, the Middle East, then finally back home to Kortrijk in Belgium. The trip took twice as long as originally expected, requiring several weeks-long waiting periods for freezing temperatures to subside along the route, as well as detours around less-friendly governments. Californian wildfires, Mexican earthquakes, a Filipino typhoon, and more all caused trouble during her attempt, but she was able to complete the act, earning 2 Guinness World Records, beating the previous 'youngest' by over a decade. 

“Only 5% of commercial pilots and 15% of computer scientists are women. In both areas – aviation and STEM – the gender gap is huge. But during my journey I met many incredible, talented women – pilots, engineers, car racers. I believe together we can make a real change. We can encourage other women to be bold, ambitious and pursue their dreams," said Rutherford. 

FMI: www.flyzolo.com


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