Last Thursday morning, British-Belgian pilot Zara Rutherford became the youngest female to fly around the world solo at age 19. Rutherford left for her five-month trek on Aug. 18 of last year and touched down on Jan. 20, 155 days after she departed.
The record was previously captured by 30-year-old American pilot Shaesta Waiz, but the overall record remains untouched after Briton Travis Ludlow, age 18, set the record last year.
Breaking Guiness World Records weren’t the only tasks on her to-do list, though. While stepping foot on various parts of the world, Rutherford strove to raise awareness for STEM-related businesses, while hoping to bridge the gender gap in STEM and aviation.
Rutherford’s fascination with aviation started when she was only four, when she took her first plane ride. At age 18, she was able to fly by herself for the first time.
Rutherford shares on her website that flying is in her blood and aims to inspire females to pursue their dreams.
I was born into a family of aviators and was lucky to have great role models in my parents and grandparents. I want to build on this heritage and inspire others. My aim is to encourage girls and young women to pursue their dreams and promote aviation and STEM-related careers (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) for them.Zara Rutherford
Rutherford’s embarkment was only supposed to take three months, but due to unfortunate weather and visa issues, the journey was extended two more months. Also, along with the other setbacks, Rutherford wasn’t allowed to fly at night.
After Rutherford took off, she flew through the UK, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, USA, Latin America and Colombia. She then headed north, where she flew over Alaska, Russia, Korea, Indonesia, the Middle East, and, finally, ended her monumental journey in Belgium. In all, the young pilot flew over 28,000 seafaring miles.
Rutherford broke not only one, but two world records Jan. 20. Along with claiming the title “youngest female to fly solo around the world,” she now holds the record for the youngest person to circumnavigate the world by microlight.
Congratulations on this huge accomplishment, Ms. Rutherford! The world can’t wait to see what you conquer next.