Teen pilot becomes youngest female to fly solo around the world

Teen pilot Zara Rutherford spent five months flying around the world (Photo: CBS Newspath)

BELGIUM (CBS) — A teenager in Europe just broke a Guinness World Record, becoming the youngest woman to fly around the world alone. Zara Rutherford finally made it back home Thursday after a five-month journey.

Zara landed her shark ultralight plane at Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport in Belgium with family and fans cheering her on. “I wasn’t expecting so many people. It’s really nice seeing so many friendly faces,” she said.

The 19-year-old Belgian-British teen also broke the Guinness World Record for the youngest person to fly solo around the world in a microlight aircraft.

“It’s just really crazy. I haven’t quite processed, it I think,” she said.

Zara’s epic journey started on August 18, 2021. She spent 260 hours in the air. It was supposed to take two to three months but ended up stretching to five because of dangerous conditions, including desert haze in Saudi Arabia, wildfires over California, and bad weather in other spots. “Coming out to Frankfurt, there was lots of rain, lots of snow. I had to wiggle in some valleys and wait for a while for the snow to clear,” Zara said.

The adventure covered more than 32,000 miles and included stops on five continents.

“It worked out clearly because here I am,” she said.

Zara’s parents, who are both pilots, began taking her in small planes when she was just a toddler and by 14, she started flying herself. “We told her and her brother since they were born that they could do anything, that they’re extraordinary and there are no limits,” Sam Rutherford said.

Zara hopes her accomplishment inspires other young girls trying to succeed in aviation and other male dominated jobs. She plans to soar to new heights herself and eventually want to become an astronaut.

Categories: DISTRACTION, World

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