British-Belgian Becomes Youngest Female To Fly Around The World
A British-Belgian teenager became the youngest woman to fly solo around the globe on Thursday and the first person to do so in a microlight plane after a five-month, five-continent odyssey in her Shark ultralight, Christian Levaux, and Johnny Cotton reported for Reuters.
Photo Insert: Zara Rutherford, a.k.a. "FlyZolo"
Nineteen-year-old Zara Rutherford landed back at Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport in Belgium after flying 51,000 km (32,000 miles) over 52 nations since her Aug. 18 departure in the world's fastest microlight aircraft. Cheers and applause went up as her plane came to a halt on the tarmac.
"It's just really crazy, I haven't quite processed it," Rutherford, smiling broadly and cloaked in British and Belgian flags, told reporters. After the penultimate leg to a German village on Wednesday, she said it was an exploit she would never repeat.
"There's been amazing moments, but then there have been moments where I had fear for my life," she added, picking New York and an active volcano in Iceland as her favorite flyovers.
After North and South America, Rutherford was stuck for a month in Alaska because of weather and visa delays. A winter storm forced another long stop in far eastern Russia before she traveled to South Asia, the Middle East, and back to Europe.
To meet the criteria for a round-the-world flight, Rutherford touched two points opposite each other on the globe: Jambi in Indonesia and Tumaco in Colombia.
She took the record from Afghan-born American Shaesta Wais, who in 2017 became the youngest woman to fly solo around the world at 30. The youngest male record holder, American Mason Andrews, was 18 when he did it in 2018. Rutherford also became the first Belgian to circumnavigate the world solo in a single-engine aircraft.