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British-Belgian teen becomes youngest woman to fly solo round the world

A British-Belgian teenager has become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.

Zara Rutherford, 19, landed her aircraft in Belgium – 155 days after departing on the 31,700-mile (51,000km) five-month journey.

Her flight in an ultralight Shark plane was supposed to take three months, but bad weather and visa issues kept her grounded, sometimes for weeks on end, extending her adventure by about two months.

Belgian-British pilot Zara Rutherford, 19, holds certificates following her landing at Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport, after a round-the-world trip in a light aircraft, becoming the youngest female pilot to circle the planet alone, in Wevelgem, Belgium, January 20, 2022. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Rutherford, 19 landed at Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport

Rutherford covered 41 nations and five continents.


She had to steer clear of California wildfires, deal with bitter temperatures over Russia, and narrowly avoided North Korean airspace.

“I wouldn’t do it again,” she confessed after the penultimate leg on Wednesday.

“There’s been amazing moments, but then there’s been moments where I had fear for my life,” she added.

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Rutherford takes a selfie with other pilots at Del Norte airport in Mexico is September 2021

Both of her parents are pilots and she started flying at 14 after spending years in small planes.

Rutherford said flying over New York and an active volcano in Iceland were here favourite moments.

To fulfil the round-the-world criteria she touched two opposite points on the globe: Jambi in Indonesia and Tumaco in Colombia.

She beat the record held by 30-year-old Afghan-born American Shaesta Waiz since 2017.

Rutherford gained her pilot’s licence in 2020 and now wants to study engineering at university in September.

The 19-year-old, who dreams of being an astronaut, hopes her achievement will encourage women in aviation, science and technology

The youngest round-the-world male record holder is American Mason Andrews, who was 18 when he did the journey in 2018.


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