19-year-old Belgian pilot about to set new world records

19-year-old Belgian pilot about to set new world records
Credit: Belga

19-year-old Zara Rutherford, who has spent the past five months travelling the globe in a small single-seater aeroplane, is about to complete her record-breaking journey.

The Belgian-British pilot first took off from the Courtrai-Wevelgem airport in August 2021. She has since flown over five continents and stopped in over 50 countries, travelling a total of 52,000 km.

Rutherford initially planned to return to Courtrai and complete her journey on Monday, but was prevented from making a stop in Frankfurt due to fog. She waited out the delay in the Czech Republic and was able to land in Germany on Wednesday. There, she told the DPA News Agency that she was eager to return to Belgium and see her family.

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The plane Rutherford has been travelling in is a Shark Ultralight. With a cruising speed of 300 kph, the high-performance aircraft is one of the fastest of its kind.

Rutherford’s website provides updates on her travels and what she hopes to accomplish. Upon landing, she will have set two new Guinness World Records: the youngest woman to fly solo around the world (Shaesta Waez was 30 when she set the record in 2017) as well as the first woman to circle the globe in a microlight aircraft.

According to the latest update, she is expected to land in Belgium today at 12:30. The public and press are invited to Courtrai to welcome her upon her return; a press conference will follow.


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