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This Belgian-British Teen Has Become The Youngest Woman To Fly Around The World Solo

After 5 months of flying, 19-year-old British-Belgian teen Zara Rutherford has become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.

On August 18, 2020, she embarked on the challenge of flying 51,000 kilometers (32,000 miles) across the world on her Shark ultralight plane. She landed back in Kortrijk-Wevelgem in western Belgium on Jan. 20, 2021.

She broke the record of youngest woman to fly solo around the world set in 2017 by Shaesta Waiz, who was 30 at the time.

On top of the achievement, she also became the first woman to fly solo in a microlight plane and the first Belgian to circumnavigate the world solo by air.

Rutherford was greeted by cheers and applause from her family and reporters on her return. In a nod to her dual nationality, she wrapped herself in British and Belgian flags.

“There’s been amazing moments, but then there’s been moments where I had fear for my life,”Rutherford told reporters upon landing.

“The hardest part was flying over Siberia. It was extremely cold and if the engine was to stall I’d be hours away from rescue. I’m not sure I would have survived,” she said, according to the BBC.

“I’m looking forward to telling people about my experiences and encouraging people to do something crazy with your life,” she said.

With parents who are both pilots, Rutherford said she hopes to inspire other girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

During her journey, she encountered numerous challenges that not only involved flying and navigation, but also adverse weather conditions and bureaucracy.

“One thing I’ve learned on this trip — and I think this applies to everyone — is that you’re capable of more than you think you are,” Rutherford had told reporters after flying nearly 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi) to cross the Indian Ocean and landing in Sri Lanka in late December last year.

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