Zara Rutherford, Teenage Aviator, Trying to Fly the World Alone


Zara Rutherford, 19, was about 20 minutes away on a flight from Iceland to Greenland when her small plane lost radio contact with the outside world.

While flying nearly 1,500 feet above the Danish Strait, staying low to escape the clouds, he listened to a podcast where a YouTube celebrity argued that the only certainty in life is death.

“That’s what I was worried about,” said Miss Rutherford. “This was pretty funny and made me laugh. If only he knew!”

Miss Rutherford, who is Belgian and English, started his journey in Belgium After soaring last week and to more than 52 countries on five continents, she plans to return there on Nov.

If it does, it overtakes Shaesta Waiz Being the youngest woman to circumnavigate the world alone in a single-engine airplane. (Travis Ludlow, an aviator from England, did it in july 18 years old.)

Two months ago, Ms. Rutherford emailed Ms. Waiz, 34. Completed its journey in 2017, to ask if it’s okay to challenge your record. The answer was an enthusiastic yes.

“I told him I was proud of him for being so young and brave enough to do this,” Ms. Waiz said. “That’s the thing about records: They’re meant to be broken.”

Ms Rutherford said she sees her journey not only as a personal challenge, but also as a way to raise awareness about the difference between the sexes in fields such as aviation, science, technology, engineering and math.

Along the way, she uses social media to highlight the stories of important women in aviation and other fields. Its list includes: Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to hold a pilot’s license in the United States, and Lilian BlandBritish aviation pioneer thought to be the first woman to design, build and fly her own aircraft.

After Miss Rutherford came to Iceland Last week, the country’s 30-year-old justice minister, Aslaug Arna, met with Sigurbjornsdottir in an airport hangar. “A great example for women, seeing that we can sometimes do a lot more than we think, believe or imagine!” Miss Rutherford wrote on facebook.

Ms. Rutherford said she didn’t have many female role models as a child. People would tell him Amelia EarhartAmerican aviator who disappeared during a world tour in 1937. But as an 8 or 9 year old, Miss Rutherford added, she’s not really someone you know or admire.

She found other role models closer to home. Her mother, Beatrice De Smet, is a recreational pilot and her father, Sam Rutherford, is a professional pilot who ships planes around the world for clients. He has been accompanying him for years, sometimes flying himself part of the way.

His longest trip ever was from Texas to Jordan. “Well, it was supposed to be from Texas to India, but I had to go back to school,” he said, laughing on a phone call from Greenland.

Crossing the Atlantic this time is just the beginning. It will hug the east coast of the United States before landing in Colombia via the British Virgin Islands. It will then travel to Mexico, the west coast of California, and north to Alaska after a detour to Montana.

After crossing into Russia via the Bering Strait, it will fly over China, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, before returning to Europe. He said the only country he deliberately avoided was North Korea.

The route is almost funny wavyPartly because his two-seater can’t travel long distances over oceans, he also likes the idea of ​​a grand adventure, he said.

“I could shorten it, but I feel like that would be pretty boring,” he said.

Sponsors and airports cover the cost of the trip, and the company Shark Aero in Slovakia supplies him with the plane. He also has a support team to arrange landing rights and other logistics, and his father advises him on the technical details from the ground up.

For example, after his radio went off during a trip to Greenland, he asked in a text message if he could climb to a height where visibility would be better through holes in the clouds.

Michael Fabry, a ferry pilot who lives in Belgium and flew about 10,500 feet above Ms. Rutherford on part of her stage from Iceland to Greenland, is from a support team to assist with logistics, particularly Asia and the Middle East.

But he added that he would inevitably encounter strong winds and clouds that his plane couldn’t fly through because it wasn’t certified to fly with instruments alone.

“This means it has to fly very low and it is not safe to be too low if you are above water,” said Mr Fabry, a former commercial pilot, over the phone.

“He has some experience but what he’s done is really, really, really brave, I must say,” he added. “I’m a little worried. I’m sure the rest of the world is, too.”

Ms Rutherford said she was under pressure to reach Russia by the end of September to prevent the onset of bad weather and her priority was safety. He practiced before he left escape from the plane in an underwater simulator.

He said he finds flying over water stressful and listens to podcasts to calm his nerves. When she made a windy landing in Greenland last week without radio contact for most of the three-hour flight from Iceland, she sent her family a two-word text message: “I’m alive.”

“It was a really long flight. To be honest, I’m really happy to be on the field,” he said. Instagram videoHe added that at one point low cloud cover forced him to fly just 600 feet above the ocean.

Two days delayed in Greenland – here I hung out with some NASA scientists – due to bad weather. It did, however, complete its transatlantic crossing on Monday. Landing in Goose Bay, Canada. Fire trucks on the asphalt greeted him with water cannons.

On Thursday, Ms. Rutherford is scheduled to land at Kennedy International Airport in New York. aeroplane it’s only about 22 feet long. (It was his father’s idea; he thought it would be fine.)

“It will definitely be the biggest airport I will ever land at in my life,” he said. “So I’m pretty excited.”





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