[July 27, 2021: Rebecca Shavit]
19-year-old Zara Rutherford has announced her gap year project. She is paving the way for girls in STEM by setting the record for the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.
Belgian-British teenager sets off on her 51,000-kilometer flight in her custom Shark ultralight plane, the world's fastest microlight, on August 11. The journey should take about 3 months.
“The greatest challenge will be the remote places like northern Russia or Greenland – there aren’t many people who live there so if anything were to go wrong I would be in a bit of an awkward situation. I’ve got a bit of nerves and excitement, sometimes both”, she said.
Zara wants to follow in the footsteps of her parents, who were both pilots. “My entire family are pilots so I have been flying my entire life and I started formal training when I was 14 and I got my license last year. My parents are completely on board. My mum took some convincing but she got there. My dad is very supportive and is helping with the logistics.”
Once completed, Rutherford will be the youngest person to fly a microlight around the world and the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.
The current female record holder is American Shaesta Waiz, who was 30 at the time of her circumnavigation in 2017.
“I am incredibly excited by this route and can’t wait. There will be many challenges on the way but experiencing all these cultures, and their food, will be amazing and worth it. I am most looking forward to South America and Greenland,” she said.
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