A teenager became the youngest woman to fly solo across the world in a 5-month challenge. Belgian-British pilot Zara Rutherford, 19, landed in Kortrijk-Wevelgem, Belgium, two months later than planned because of adverse weather conditions.
During the trip she was stranded for a month in Nome, Alaska, and 41 days in Russia. Upon her return to Belgium, she was welcomed by family, press and fans. She was accompanied during the landing by four aircraft of the Belgian Red Devils aerobatics team.
After landing she wrapped herself in the Belgian and UK flags and told reporters that “everything looks crazy, I still haven’t been able to process”. thousand kilometers. “The hardest part was in Siberia – it was extremely cold and if the engine failed I would be hours away from a rescue. I don’t know if I would survive,” he said.
“I really want to tell people about my experience and encourage them to do something crazy with their lives.” “If you get the chance, go for it.”
how was the adventure
The route included more than 60 stops on 5 continents and started on August 18 of last year.
The Belgian-British aviator, who is the daughter of pilots, said she would like to inspire girls to get into engineering, math, science and technology. She broke the record held by American Shaesta Waiz, who was 30 at the time of her challenge, in 2017. The youngest man in the world to do the aerial circumnavigation is 18 years old. Rutherford, in addition to being the youngest woman to set this mark, is the first woman to do the course in an ultralight class. duration of three months, but several problems with the weather delayed the trip and led to the expiration of the Russian visa – and still in the proximity of the Siberian winter. When she arrived in Alaska, only three of 39 flights were able to take off and she still had to wait for the visa to arrive from the Russian consulate in Houston, USA.
Even when the paperwork arrived, she had to wait three weeks to cross the Bering Strait, which separates Alaska from Russia.
cold in siberia
In a video post on Instagram she said, “It’s minus 18 degrees and my hands are literally freezing cold. I’ve been here for almost a month.”
“I’ve been keeping myself busy. I’ve been sending admission letters to universities and working on the plane to be ready to fly.”
“The weather hasn’t been very good. Every time Russia either has bad weather or it’s Nome [no Alasca] who has problems”.
When I was in Siberia, temperatures reached minus 35 degrees on land and minus 20 degrees at altitude. A mechanic blocked part of the air intake to keep the engine warm in the extreme cold.
Despite adjustments to the aircraft, the aviator was forced to stay on the ground for a while in two Russian cities: in Magadan she stayed for a week and in Ayan for three.
After an unscheduled stop at Indonesia’s Rahadi Usman airport, she had to sleep two nights in the terminal because of a lack of documentation to leave the site.
Despite the difficulties and after spending Christmas and New Years away from her family, she appeared excited in Instagram posts.
Another challenge was flying over smoke from a California fire.
The plane had malfunctions with a clogged pitot tube (a measuring instrument) in New Mexico, USA, and a flat tire delayed plans in Singapore.
In Veracruz, Mexico, she felt an earthquake in a hotel room on the sixth floor.
“Suddenly the building started to shake. I don’t think I’ve ever descended the stairs so quickly. I thought the most dangerous part of the trip would be through the air.”