Teenagers are trying to break a woman’s solo flight record


Kortrijk, Belgium — Teenagers from Belgium and the United Kingdom flew on Wednesday to become the youngest woman to fly alone in the world.

19-year-old Zara Rutherford took off from a runway in Kortrijk, western Belgium, in a cloudy cloud, staring at her parents. Rutherford aims to break the record set by American aviator Chaestawise, who was 30 when he set the world benchmark in 2017.

She wants to show other young women and girls that the sky is the limit when it comes to marking the history of aviation uniquely by narrowing the gap from 12 to 1 year. Rutherford aims to fly fast, lightweight shark sports aircraft in 52 countries on five continents in aerial trekking, which can take a couple of months.

“I think I’m very nervous. I’m a little distrustful. I think my next step is to check the weather again,” she told The Associated Press before takeoff. rice field. “Usually I’m arriving in Scotland tonight. I’m not sure if that will work. Of course, I’ll do my best to stay safe.”

Belgian and British teenager Zara Razaford closes the canopy of the Shark ultralight aviation on August 18, 2021 while preparing to take off at the Kortrijk-Weferhem airfield in Weferhem, Belgium. (Virginia Mayo / AP photo)

Rutherford is from a family of pilots. She has been traveling on small planes since the age of six, starting to parachute at the age of 11 and flying herself at the age of 14. She recorded about 130 hours of solo flight.

She said she would encourage girls and young women to enter the aviation industry and study science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Also known as STEM.

“This is her dream. That’s what she wants to do,” said Sam, Rutherford’s father. “I’m very proud that she’s trying to attract more young women and girls to STEM and aviation, because 5 percent of the world’s pilots are women. That’s what we’re proud of. It’s not a power statistic. “

Rutherford planes were specially equipped for travel. It’s usually a two-seater, but an additional fuel tank now occupies one of them. It also helps to clear the question of whether she is flying alone.

Belgian and British teenagers Zalala Zaford will take off on August 18, 2021 at the Kortrijk-Weferhem Airfield in Weferhem, Belgium, on a Shark ultralight aircraft. (Virginia Mayo / AP photo)

Sharks are too small to fly long distances in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. To cross the Atlantic Ocean, Rutherford plans to jump over Europe and Greenland. She travels down the United States and returns to Alaska to cross the Pacific Ocean. From there, she crosses Asia and returns to Europe.

Mental exhaustion and loneliness on such long-haul flights can be a major challenge.

“These are things I keep in mind, and I often call my parents, friends and family,” says Rutherford. Sadly, I can’t watch the movie. But I have music lined up and podcasts lined up. So hopefully it should keep me busy while I’m in the air for 5 or 6 hours at a time. “

The men’s record of a round-the-world flight is held by the 18-year-old British Travis Ludlow.

Mark Carlson

Associated Press