She Just Became the Youngest Woman to Fly Solo Around the World


“I  made it,” cried 19-year-old Zara Rutherford after her airplane touched down at Kortrijk-Wevelgem Worldwide Airport in Belgium on Jan. 20, 2022. She had ample motive for her pleasure. Rutherford had simply flown 32,300 miles (52,000 kilometers) over 41 international locations and 5 continents to interrupt two Guinness World Data: the youngest ladies to circumnavigate the globe by air solo and the primary girl to take action in a microlight plane.

However as Phileas Fogg discovered in Jules Verne’s 1872 novel “Across the World in 80 Days,” touring across the planet is just not really easy.

The twin Belgian-British citizen took off on Aug. 18, 2021, in a Shark Aero with an additional gasoline tank within the passenger area. She anticipated her journey to take three months. That, nevertheless, was earlier than unhealthy climate pressured her to make an unscheduled touchdown at Washington-Warren Airport in Washington, North Carolina, delaying her meant go to to Jacksonville, Florida — the place she was additionally to fulfill Shaesta Waiz, the Afghan American pilot who had set the earlier file because the youngest girl to girdle the globe in 2017 at age 30.

It was only a prelude of issues to return. Rutherford braved heavy cloud cowl over Colombia and lightning flashes over Mexico and made an unscheduled touchdown at Redding, California, as a result of smoke from wildfires within the Seattle space hampered visibility. She additionally skilled delays in Alaska and Russia for “visa and climate points” earlier than lastly reaching Vladivostok. She was additionally denied permission to fly over China and narrowly averted straying into North Korean airspace.

Probably the most difficult leg of her flight was over Siberia.

“It was minus 35 levels Celsius on the bottom,” she mentioned. “If the engine had been to stall, I’d be hours away from rescue and I don’t understand how lengthy I’d have survived for.”

Unhealthy climate delayed even the ultimate leg of her flight by per week, however regardless of the obstacles, Rutherford by no means stop till she reached her aim — all over the world in 155 days.

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