Teenager takes to the skies on round-the-world record bid

Published August 19, 2021
ZARA Rutherford waves as she departs for the round-the-world trip in a light aircraft.
—Reuters
ZARA Rutherford waves as she departs for the round-the-world trip in a light aircraft. —Reuters

WEVELGEM: Teenage pilot Zara Rutherford took her ultralight sports plane into the skies on Wednesday on the first leg of a 52-country, five-continent flight around the world.

The intrepid 19-year-old British-Belgian dreams one day of becoming an astronaut, but for now her goal is to become the youngest woman to circumnavigate the planet flying solo. The first leg was a short hop across the Channel from her Belgian home town of Kortrijk to England. Her three-month voyage will then take her over oceans, deserts and the vast Siberian wilderness.

She will try to avoid daunting main air hubs — apart from New York’s busy JFK airport — in her tiny 325-kilogramme Shark UL prop plane, and touch down instead on smaller airports and airfields for overnight rests and refuelling.

She will be on her own for flights lasting five to six hours. She has secured permission to visit countries including Greenland, Honduras, Saudi Arabia and Myanmar.

While not the youngest pilot to fly around the world solo — an 18-year-old Briton, Travis Ludlow, completed the trip in July — Rutherford is the youngest woman to attempt the feat.

“I’m really hoping to encourage girls and young women to go into aviation and STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” she said before takeoff.

“Growing up, I didn’t see many women in those fields and it was quite discouraging. So I’m hoping to change that.” Her aerial odyssey can be followed on Rutherford’s website, FlyZolo.com, and on the TikTok social media app.

Rutherford has a satellite telephone and a radio to communicate with air traffic control in all the countries on her route, but in the cockpit she will be alone with her music and her podcasts.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Police excesses
Updated 13 Aug, 2022

Police excesses

Crass thuggery and victimisation of ordinary citizens are unlikely to earn govt plaudits from any quarter.
Afghan cleric’s killing
13 Aug, 2022

Afghan cleric’s killing

THAT a suicide bomber belonging to the self-styled Islamic State group managed to target a senior Taliban cleric in...
No room for hockey
13 Aug, 2022

No room for hockey

THERE have been accusations and clarifications as the blame game rumbles on. Yet despite workers of the PTI ...
Militancy redux
Updated 12 Aug, 2022

Militancy redux

There is fear and confusion all around, and it is for the state to bring clarity to the situation.
Distorting history
12 Aug, 2022

Distorting history

WHEN history is co-opted by ideologically overzealous elements, expect the facts to die a quick death, and...
Dengue danger
12 Aug, 2022

Dengue danger

WITH rains continuing across most of the country, a dengue outbreak can quickly become a major headache for health...