UK markets closed
  • FTSE 100

    -26.87 (-0.38%)
  • FTSE 250

    -221.39 (-0.93%)
  • AIM

    -5.42 (-0.43%)

    -0.0017 (-0.15%)

    -0.0040 (-0.29%)

    -1,404.49 (-4.28%)
  • CMC Crypto 200

    -35.86 (-3.25%)
  • S&P 500

    +6.50 (+0.15%)
  • DOW

    +33.18 (+0.10%)

    +0.69 (+0.94%)

    -0.70 (-0.04%)
  • NIKKEI 225

    +609.41 (+2.06%)

    -318.82 (-1.30%)
  • DAX

    -112.22 (-0.72%)
  • CAC 40

    -63.52 (-0.95%)

Pilot Zara, 19, aims to set solo round-the-world record in gap year challenge

·3-min read

A 19-year-old student has announced her gap year project – aiming to become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.

Zara Rutherford, who has British and Belgian nationality, will set off from her home city of Brussels next month for the circumnavigation, which is set to take her up to three months.

The teenager, who studied at St Swithun’s School, Winchester, Hampshire, is following in the footsteps of her parents, who are both pilots.

Announcing the record bid at Popham Airfield near Winchester, she told the PA news agency: “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.”

Zara Rutherford solo flight
Zara Rutherford will attempt to set a new record and become the youngest woman to fly around the world solo in a small plane (Steve Parsons/PA)

She added: “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 licence 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.”

Miss Rutherford will be flying a Shark Ultralight, the world’s fastest light sport aircraft, for the self-funded record attempt.

Zara Rutherford solo flight
Zara Rutherford (second right) with her family (L to R) brother Mack Rutherford, mother Beatrice de Smet and father Sam Rutherford (Steve Parsons/PA)

The spare seat has been removed to accommodate an extra fuel tank and to avoid any questions about another person flying with her.

The current female record holder is American Shaesta Waiz, who was 30 at the time of her circumnavigation in 2017, while the youngest male record-holder was 18 years old.

Miss Rutherford, who intends to study computer science or electrical engineering and whose ambition is to become an astronaut, said: “At first, I was planning to fly around the world as an adventure during my gap year, not realising I would become the youngest woman to do so if I achieved it.

“It was only when I started researching more that I noticed I could be the first Belgian and the youngest woman to solo circumnavigate the globe.

“I’m hoping to get more girls interested in aviation.”

Zara Rutherford solo flight
Zara Rutherford said she hopes to get more girls interested in aviation (Steve Parsons/PA)

The route will take her across the Atlantic, over Greenland, Canada and South America, up to Alaska, then crossing to Russia and Indonesia before returning to Europe.

She said: “The route has been chosen to fulfil Guinness World Records’ requirements to be an ‘around the world flight’.

“The route currently takes in 52 countries and crosses the Equator twice.

“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.”

Miss Rutherford intends to start her attempt on August 11.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting