Belgian-British Teen Pilot Becomes The Youngest Woman Ever To Fly Solo Around The World

A 19-year-old Belgian-British pilot became a world record holder after touching down at home on January 20 after a five-month flight.

Upon touching down in her hometown in Western Belgium in her ultralight Shark plane, Zara Rutherford set the world record as the youngest woman to fly solo around the world, finishing her journey in 155 days. The previous record was set in 2017 by 30-year-old American aviator Shaesta Waiz.

The trip took longer than Rutherford had originally calculated. The global flight was supposed to take three months. Weather and visa issues interfered with her travels, sometimes for weeks, tacking on another two months to her journey.

Rutherford traveled more than 28,000 nautical miles. She stopped over in five continents and visited 41 nations.

"The people were incredible, everywhere," she said in her post-landing press conference.

In her voyage, she saw some wildly fluctuating weather as well.

"Winter in Europe poses a lot of challenges," she acknowledged. She went on to detail temperatures as low as -31 degrees Fahrenheit in Siberia and as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Indonesia. She was also witness to fog, smoke from wildfires, and even typhoons.

Rutherford began her flying career at 14, though it's been in her blood since birth thanks to having two pilot parents. She hopes her record will encourage girls to embrace a love of aviation and the sciences that go along with it.

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