According to the BBC, Pilot Zara Rutherford, 19, began her journey on August 18, 2021, in Cartridge, Belgium, and ended it on January 20, 2022, after traveling to five continents while stopping more than 60 times.
“I am delighted to have completed the 32,000-mile flight challenge,” Zara told a news conference. “I was supposed to complete the trip in three months, but bad weather delayed the trip,” she said.
The teen pilot said the hardest part of the trip was to pass over Siberia because it was a very cold region, and if the engine stopped there it would take several hours to rescue.
According to reports, Zara’s parents are both pilots, while Zara hopes to encourage other girls to pursue careers (science, technology, engineering, and math). In addition to being the youngest woman to complete the challenge, Zara is also the first woman to travel around the world in a microlight and the first Belgian citizen to fly around the world alone by air.
Not only has she beaten the record held by American Shaesta Waiz, who was 30 when she circumnavigated the globe unaccompanied in 2017, Rutherford also now holds the title for the first woman to circumnavigate the world in a microlight aircraft.
She was also forced to make an unscheduled landing in Redding, California due to poor visibility as a result of the wildfires in the Seattle area and was later denied permission to fly over China.