19-Year Old Sets World Record to Become the Youngest Woman to Fly Solo Around the World

19-Year Old Sets World Record to Become the Youngest Woman to Fly Solo Around the World

March 1, 2022 by By Cathy Stack

Kortrijk, Belgium—Zara Rutherford, at age 19, became the youngest woman to fly solo around the world in January. Her history-making, epic journey spanned five continents and more than 28,000 nautical miles in 155 days. Her incredible feat broke two Guinness World Records as Zara became the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe while flying a microlight aircraft.

“I made it,” Zara said as she reached home and her final destination, Kortrijk-Wevelgem airport in western Belgium.

A large, jubilant crowd that included her beaming parents awaited her with a hero’s welcome. Reporters surrounded her as she departed the aircraft, eager to hear about her amazing journey firsthand.

Zara first departed Belgium in a two-seater, ultralight plane named Shark UL plane. The plane is equipped with extra fuel tanks, two radios and a parachute. Along her journey, she landed in 41 countries. The record-breaking trip took 155 days – a little longer than she expected due to unexpected challenges. She was grounded in some countries for weeks, awaiting safe flying conditions and visa entry approval to her next destination.

Zara flew through wildfires, typhoons and dangerous, sub-zero temperatures to reach her destination and make history.

“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 reflected.

One particularly harrowing moment occurred when she had to make an unscheduled landing in California because of wildfire smoke.

“At one point, I just couldn’t see anymore,” she said. “It got really turbulent.”

At several points on her journey, Zara said she was struck by the beauty of the natural wonders below. She also encountered many kind strangers throughout her trip.

Zara started training as a pilot at age 14, and she has dreamed of flying around the world since childhood. A love for aviation runs in her family, and both her parents are trained pilots.

To fund her childhood dream, Zara sought corporate sponsorships to live out the ultimate challenge and epic adventure.

Zara hopes her journey will inspire more young girls and women to explore a career in aviation. According to Women in Aviation International (WAI), women account for only 8.4 percent of pilots in the world and 7 percent of commercial pilots are women.

“The gender gap is huge,” said Zara.

Zara’s secondary school education included courses in advanced mathematics, economics and physics, and she hopes to attend university to study computer science and computer engineering. She ultimately hopes to train as an astronaut.

Her world-record global flight supported both the ‘Girls Who Code’ and ‘Dreams Soar’ charities, which support girls and women pursuing science-related careers.

“It’s an easy thing to say, but just go for it,” Zara encouraged. “If you don’t try and see how high you can fly, then you’ll never know.” 

PassItOn and Foundation For a Better Life believe that Zara is a true hero for inspiring girls and women to follow their own dreams and reach for the sky. She has set an example for others to follow her lead and explore nontraditional career paths. She has proven that age and gender are irrelevant and that a person’s drive matters most. Her bold action is a great example of the value of determination. Please help us honor Zara by sharing her inspiring story.

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Your Comments
Lynise Tarring from Hilo, Hawai'i  MARCH 1, 2022
You gave us all a ray of Hope. Thank you for being who you are and God Bless you for opening a door of Hope.

Jim Sharon from CO MARCH 1, 2022
Extremely inspirational! The world needs these kinds of stories amidst the new crisis in Ukraine.


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