Zara Rutherford, 19, completed her mission and became the youngest woman in history to fly solo around the world in a small aircraft. Her journey lasted 155 days or 5 months and 3 days. With her flight Zara wants to encourage young women to pursue their dreams and reduce the gender gap in aviation as well as in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Zara is 19 years old and on the 18th of August 2021 she set off from Kortrijk-Wevelgem, Belgium, heading West across the Atlantic. She stopped in Iceland and Greenland, flew through Canada, the USA and the Caribbean to Colombia. Then she continued North-West, crossed the Bering Strait from Alaska into Russia and flew further to South Korea, Indonesia, India, the Middle East and back home to Kortrijk in Belgium.
Her journey took twice as long as expected. In Alaska and Russia she waited several weeks in freezing temperatures for good weather conditions. She had to take a long detour over the sea to avoid North Korean airspace. In the Philippines she had to escape the super-typhoon Rai, in India she avoided thick smog which significantly reduced visibility. In California she faced wild-fires, in Dubai – heavy winds, and in Mexico - an earthquake. But everywhere she met extremely friendly people eager to help and encourage her to continue her inspiring mission.
Having completed her circumnavigation, Zara can now claim two Guinness World Records (GWR). The previous youngest female record holder, Shaesta Waiz, was 30 at the time of her flight. With this flight Zara has reduced the gender gap for the record by more than a decade.
Zara was flying a Shark, one of the fastest ultralight aircraft in the world, specially prepared for such a long journey.
“Only 5% of commercial pilots and 15% of computer scientists are women. In both areas – aviation and STEM – the gender gap is huge. But during my journey I met many incredible, talented women – pilots, engineers, car racers. I believe together we can make a real change. We can encourage other women to be bold, ambitious and pursue their dreams.” - says Zara Rutherford.
For more information about Zara’s flight visit: