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Teen pilot begins trek to become youngest woman to fly around the world

Belgian-British teenager Zara Rutherford waves from her Shark Ultralight airplane prior to take off at the Kortrijk-Wevelgem airfield in Wevelgem, Belgium, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. A Belgian-British teenager took to the skies Wednesday in her quest to become the youngest woman to fly around the world solo. Nineteen-year-old Zara Rutherford took off from an airstrip in Wevelgem, Belgium, in an ultralight plane looking to break the record set by American aviator Shaesta Waiz, who set the world benchmark at age 30 in 2017. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 10:30 AM PT – Thursday, August 19, 2021

A 19-year-old pilot is on a journey to become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world. Zara Rutherford took off from a Belgium airport to start her voyage despite a slight delay due to the weather. She also hopes to take the title from the current female record holder who was 30-years-old at the time of her flight.

“It’s a dream I’ve had my entire life; to fly a plane around around the world,” stated Rutherford. It was just a crazy idea and I always thought it would be impossible, but then I decided if I didn’t tell anyone about it then it’s never going to happen. So I told my parents and straight away, they are like ‘yes, let’s do this.’”

Rutherford’s route is expected to take three months to complete with stops in 52 countries, but she said she’s been preparing.

“Fatigue is definitely a factor, but I’m making sure that I’m always well rested,” she explained. “And then there are more logistical complications weather-wise that could delay some days, but I’m looking forward to it and I’ve got a great team supporting me.”

One thing that all her flight training maybe hasn’t readied her for is the reality that a solo trip around the globe could get quite lonely.

“I spoke to some previous world record holders, few people around the world, and one thing that surprised me was apparently loneliness,” said Rutherford. “So you spend a very long time in the plane by yourself. Apparently it gets quite lonely, so hopefully that will be okay.”

The young pilot aims to be a role model and said she hopes to inspire other women to study and work in STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. For Rutherford the sky is the limit as when she finishes her journey she wants to become an astronaut.

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