Teenage Pilot, Zara Rutherford Completes Solo round-world Record
A teenage pilot has become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world following a five-month challenge.
Zara Rutherford, 19, landed in Kortrijk-Wevelgem in Belgium, two months later than planned as a result of adverse weather.
During the trip she spent a month stuck in Nome, Alaska, and 41 days in Russia.
On her return to Belgium, the former pupil of St Swithun’s School, Winchester, was greeted by her family, journalists and well-wishers.
She was accompanied in her landing by four planes from the Belgian Red Devils aerobatic display team.
After landing, she wrapped herself in British and Belgian and told reporters: “It’s just really crazy, I haven’t quite processed it.”
She told a press conference she was “so glad” she took on the challenge of flying 32,000 miles (51,000 km).
“The hardest part was flying over Siberia – it was extremely cold and if the engine was to stall I’d be hours away from rescue. I’m not sure I would have survived,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to telling people about my experiences and encouraging people to something crazy with your life.
“If you have the opportunity – go for it.”
The circumnavigation included more than 60 stops across five continents and began on 18 August.
The British-Belgian aviator, whose parents are both pilots, said she hoped to inspire other girls to get into STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) occupations.
The challenge was made possible by sponsors including her former school in Hampshire, and Shark – the Slovakian manufacturer of her Shark UL aircraft.
Her former school was among the first to pay congratulate Zara, tweeting it was “super proud” of her achievement.