19-Year-Old Looking to Become Youngest Woman to Fly Around World

by Anna Dunn

A 19-year old woman is looking to become the youngest woman ever to fly solo around the world. Zara Rutherford, who lives in Belgium, says that “there is a difference in aviation between men and women.” Now, she’s on a mission to inspire. The current record is held by 30-year old Shaesta Weitz.

Zara Rutherford is funding the trip herself and with sponsors. She expects that she’ll complete the 32,000-mile journey in two to three months. She takes off on August 11th and is planning to see 52 countries and cross over the equator twice.

Zara Rutherford To Fly Around the World Over the Course of Three Months

According to the BBC, Zara Rutherford already has some of the dicier places in mind.

“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,” she said. But she’s trying not to sweat it too much.

“I’ve got a bit of nerves and excitement, sometimes both,” she said. She’s taking her preparation very seriously.

“This week alone I’ve done about 40 hours of flying. Especially for safety. I need to make sure I’m as safe as possible.”

Zara Rutherford is also going to South America. Flying near the equator can get a bit dicey, so she’s doing her best to make sure she’s prepared. She’s also going to be flying through mountainous areas like Greenland and Alaska, so she has to be very precise with her route.

Rutherford will fly in a Shark UL, which is a sport aircraft with a number of speed records.

But just because both of her parents are pilots, that doesn’t mean they weren’t nervous when she told them her plans.

“When she first told me about it, my heart skipped a beat. It took me a bit of time to digest. And now I’m so proud and fully, fully behind her,” her mother said. According to Zara, this is how she wants to spend her gap year.

“I’m taking a gap year. I’ve got some spare time. Why not do something crazy and change my life a bit?” she told Sky News.

Rutherford isn’t the only pilot to make major waves recently. 82-year-old pilot Wally Funk just became the oldest person to ever go to space after being excluded from NASA’s space program in the 60s for being a woman. Now, Zara Rutherford is hoping to become the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe.

You can follow Zara Rutherford’s journey on her Instagram, FlyZolo. There, she shares updates as she prepares for her trip and talks to the press about her daring journey.