British-Belgian teen aims to become youngest female to fly round the world

·1-min read
 Zara Rutherford took off on her three-month adventure  (AFP via Getty Images)
Zara Rutherford took off on her three-month adventure (AFP via Getty Images)

A 19-year-old pilot has set off on a mission to become the youngest woman to fly alone around the world.

Zara Rutherford took off on her three-month adventure from Kortrijk in Belgium just before 10am on Wednesday - half an hour late due to the weather.

Her 51,000 kilometre (32,000 miles) journey will be made from her bespoke Shark ultralight plane, the world’s fastest microlight.

The former pupil of St Swithun’s School, Winchester, made her first stop at Popham Airfield in Hampshire at 11:30am.

She has hopes to fly over 52 countries and cross the equator twice during her trip.

The Belgian-British teenager takes off in her Shark Ultralight airplane at the Kortrijk-Wevelgem airfield in Wevelgem (AP)
The Belgian-British teenager takes off in her Shark Ultralight airplane at the Kortrijk-Wevelgem airfield in Wevelgem (AP)

Ahead of her journey, she posed for pictures before making her departure in the light aircraft.

“I am very nervous, I think. I am also in a bit of disbelief. I think my next step is to check the weather again,” she told The AP.

The pilot shared she wants to inspire girls and young women to get into aviation as well as encourage them to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Miss Rutherford’s father Sam said: “This is her dream. It’s what she wants to do. I am very, very proud that she wants to try and attract more young women and girls into STEM and aviation.

“Because 5 per cent of pilots in the world are women. That’s really not a statistic in which we should be proud.”

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