Zara Rutherford waves before taking off for a round-the-world trip in Wevelgem. AFP
Gulf Today Report
A 19-year-old female pilot Zara Rutherford set off on Wednesday in a three-month bid to win the title of youngest woman to fly solo around the world.
Rutherford took off from Kortrijk-Wevelgem International Airport in western Belgium aboard her lightweight Shark, the world's fastest light aircraft.
The British-Belgian girl hopes her journey will encourage girls and women to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and spark girls' interest in aviation.
"I grew up loving aviation and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)," Rutherford said, "but I haven't seen many other women or girls do that. I have always found it very sad or frustrating, and I hope to encourage girls to enter this field.”
She is seeking to snatch the title from Shaesta Wais, who has become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world at the age of 30.
Rutherford's trip will take about three months, during which it will stop in 52 countries, including Greenland, China and Nicaragua — where she will stay with local families or in hotels.
Rutherford, who was born to pilot parents, will start her university studies next year and dreams of becoming an astronaut.
"I love adventure and I think space is perhaps the biggest adventure," she says.
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