Sunday, May 22

Society. At 19, she becomes the youngest pilot in the world to complete a solo circumnavigation of the globe.

A 19-year-old Belgian-British pilot completed a solo circumnavigation of the planet in Belgium on Thursday, which began in the same place five months ago, in an ultralight two-seater aircraft, becoming the youngest woman to achieve such a feat.

After a journey of 52,000 km on five continents, in several stages, Zara Rutherford landed around 1 p.m. at Courtrai-Wevelgem airport (in the west of the country), awaited by a cloud of cameras.

A beige suit and white cap, she was hailed as she stepped out of her cockpit and greeted on the tarmac by her parents who hugged her.

A longer than expected world tour

Departing on August 19 from the same Belgian airport, Zara Rutherford is not the youngest pilot to complete a solo aerial world tour: an 18-year-old Briton, Travis Ludlow, did so last year. But she becomes the youngest woman to accomplish this feat.

Until then, this performance was the prerogative of Shaesta Waiz, an American of Afghan origin who flew around the world alone in a plane in 2017, at the age of 30.

The propeller aircraft used by the Belgian-British is a Shark UL microlight weighing only 325 kg. The world tour was longer than initially planned since she initially expected to complete it in less than three months.

“Encouraging little girls to follow their dreams”

In Europe, in recent days, his agenda has been delayed in particular by bad weather. Initially, in August, Zara Rutherford’s mother said she was “extremely proud” of the adventure in which she was embarking.

Her “mission”, said Béatrice De Smet, is “to encourage little girls to follow their dreams and reach for the stars”.

“I really hope to encourage girls and young women to get into aviation, science, technology, engineering and math,” Zara herself said before taking off.

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