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This 19-year-old flew a plane around the world to encourage more women to become pilots

Zara Rutherford lands at Wevelgem Airport in Belgium on January 20 after flying solo around the world.

Olivier Matthys / Getty Images

  • Zara Rutherford became the youngest woman to fly solo around the world in January.
  • She wants more women to feel that they can pursue careers in aviation.
  • “It’s hard for a girl to see herself in this field,” Rutherford told Insider.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A 19-year-old woman who flew a plane around the world said she embarked on her epic journey to encourage more women and girls into careers in aviation and related fields.

Zara Rutherford became the youngest woman to sail around the world solo in January. She is also the first person to fly around the world in a microlight aircraft.

The record was held by Shaesta Waiz, who completed a trip around the world at the age of 30 in 2017.

When Rutherford spoke to Insider at the European Business Aviation Summit last month, Rutherford said she did not see many female pilots growing up and did not feel she could talk about aviation with friends at her girls’ school.

“It was pretty discouraging. Only 5% of commercial pilots are women, it’s hard for a girl to see herself in this field,” she said.

Rutherford, whose parents are both pilots, already had some international aviation experience.

Problems meant the trip took longer than expected

After starting in Belgium, she headed west toward North and South America before heading for Russia and Siberia.

Rutherford told Insider she originally intended to spend a night with a family in Alaska, but ended up staying for a month after her Russian visa expired and the turbulent weather ruled out flying.

The 19-year-old said the flights from Alaska and over Siberia were the most difficult because “every single flight went something wrong”, adding that she had difficulty mentally “resetting” after each flight.

Flying between the Russian cities of Anadyr and Magadan was also challenging because “just nothing” was there except for a weather station that reported temperatures of minus 35 degrees Celsius, Rutherford said.

“I was nervous because every single thing had to go perfectly – the weather had to be perfect, the wind had to be perfect, otherwise I would run out of fuel.”

Fuel levels meant it was often not an option to return, she added.

Rutherford finished where she started at Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport in Belgium on January 20 after a five-month journey around the world.

‘People keep asking me what’s next’

Zara Rutherford is the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.

Olivier Matthys / Getty Images

The pilot hopes to stay in aviation, but also has plans to go to university.

Reflecting on her flights around the world, Rutherford said she does not see her experience as something she should personally “beat”.

“People keep asking me what’s next. Flying around the world is hard to beat, but I do not see it that way. Whether it’s flying around the world, or running a marathon or even just overcoming one small challenge – you can “I can not compare them,” Rutherford told Insider.

“Even if you could, I would argue for flying around the world and solving a math problem that I’ve had hours of difficulty with … in fact, I’m just as proud of both.”

This 19-year-old flew a plane around the world to encourage more women to become pilots

Source link This 19-year-old flew a plane around the world to encourage more women to become pilots

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