Teen pilot Zara Rutherford becomes youngest woman to fly solo around the world
British-Belgian teenager Zara Rutherford ended her five-month trip flying around the world on Thursday, becoming the youngest woman to complete the feat solo.
The 19-year-old landed at the Belgian Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport on Thursday after touching down in 30 countries on five continents since her August 18 departure.
She traveled 51,000 kilometers (32,000 miles) in her Shark ultralight single-propeller aircraft.
“It’s really just crazy. I haven’t quite processed it,” Rutherford told reporters after landing.
“It’s very strange being back here,” Rutherford said before adding that, after her world tour, she would “like to do nothing next week.”
Rutherford’s parents are both pilots, with her father having flown for the British air force. She fielded questions in English, French and Dutch.
“There’s been amazing moments, but then there’s been moments where I feared for my life,” she said, listing New York City, an active volcano and Iceland as examples of her favorite places to fly over.
The frozen expanse of Russia’s Siberia was the “scariest” part of the journey.
“I’d be going hundreds and hundreds of kilometers without seeing anything human — I mean no electricity cables, no roads, no people — and I thought ‘if the engine stopped now, I’d have a really big problem,'” she said.
Rutherford’s journey included several bumps along the way. Her aircraft limited her to flying during the day. She was also forced to make several diverted or hasty landings.