19-Year-Old Becomes Youngest Woman to Fly Around the World Solo

British-Belgian teenager Zara Rutherford just became the youngest woman to fly around the world solo. The 19-year-old landed in Belgium after completing a 41-country journey, which began in August 2021. Rutherford, who is also the first Belgian to fly around the world solo, picks up the title from Shaesta Waiz, an American who was 30 during her solo flight around the world in 2017. It’s one of two Guinness World Records the teenage pilot achieved, the other revolving around her aircraft—she’s the first woman to circumnavigate the world in a microlight. Certainly not a bad way to spend a gap year.

Error occurred!

According to CNN, where we first saw this news, the pilot initially thought the project would take her three months. However, Rutherford ran into several roadblocks along the way, which included weather and visa delays. The pilot took off on August 18, 2021, in Kortrijk, Belgium. Over the course of her journey, she visited Greenland, the US, Colombia, Indonesia, India, and Greece. Those are, of course, just a few of the places she visited in the course of the 32,300 mile journey.

On her website, Rutherford wrote that she plans to study computer science and engineering at university. She added that one of her goals is to eventually become an astronaut. The young aviator is a vocal advocate for women and girls pursuing careers in STEM. Her site specifically references two organizations that promote women and girls in STEM, Girls Who Code and Dreams Soar, which her world record predecessor Waiz founded.

Teenage pilot Zara Rutherford flying around the world
Inside Edition

“Only 5% of commercial pilots and 15% of computer scientists are women. In both areas – aviation and STEM – the gender gap is huge,” Rutherford wrote. “It is in fact a dream gap as 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 classes and movies that they can be scientists, astronauts, CEO’s 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 bold, ambitious and make their dreams come true.”

Zara Rutherford’s feat is incredibly remarkable. And fans all over the world got to follow along. Navigating around the world, with all its shifting weather patterns and sometimes dicey diplomatic obstacles, is astounding. We have no doubt we’ll one day catch up with her from the International Space Station.

Top Stories
Trending Topics