Airplane GEEK

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We catch up with Zara Rutherford, the youngest woman to attempt solo circumnavigation

Zara Rutherford after landing in Seattle from Redding, Calif.

Zara Rutherford taxies her plane after landing in Seattle from Redding, Calif.

Piloting a single-engine plane through the mountainous regions of the Pacific Northwest and onward to Alaska in the autumn can be daunting, with plenty of weather and terrain challenges.

Then consider that it’s just one short portion of a round-the-world journey, crossing oceans and landing in more than 50 countries across five continents.

She’s also not instrument rated, which means she is doing the whole trip via visual flight rules.

Zara Rutherford is the 19-year-old Belgian pilot, flying a  high-performance Shark Aero ultralight aircraft. If she succeeds in her journey, she will become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world, as well as the most youthful person to fly single around the world within a microlight.

She departed Belgium inside August, 2021, and stopped in Seattle Sept. 19, before heading north toward Alaska a couple days later.

A tired, but smiling, Zara Rutherford arrived in Seattle Sept. 19. King County International Airport officials presented her with a gift bag on arrival.

A tired, but smiling, Zara Rutherford arrived in Seattle Sept. 19. King County International Airport officials presented her with a new gift bag on arrival; the local apples were apparently well received.

She we greeted by a small crowd of supporters, including representatives from the airport, Museum of Flight and several businesses from the particular airfield. Shortly after talking with the group associated with well-wishers, she was taken on a private tour of the museum.

Appropriately enough, we got a chance to chat with Zara throughout front of the museum’s replica of Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra. We only had time for some sort of brief chat, as the girl was tired from typically the long flight and still needed to move her aircraft to its overnight parking location.

Asked about her decision to do the circumnavigation without instrument rating, she simply replied, “why not? ”

“I wanted a good challenge. I wanted to see the world – not just fly around at X thousand feet, ” the lady said. “If you’re in the overcast you can be anywhere – you may be in Egypt or in Russia – it doesn’t really matter. ”

And, something close to this AvGeek’s heart – I wanted to know why your woman chose this particular light-sport aircraft for such your journey. Her reply was appropriately businesslike: “It has a good cruising speed, good fuel consumption, plus good range. And I received a business proposal where they would let me use the plane around exchange for the publicity. ”

You can learn more about Zara’s record attempt in addition to follow along here .

EDITOR-AT-LARGE – SEATTLE, WA Francis Zera is a Seattle-based architectural, aerial, aviation, and even commercial photographer, a freelance photojournalist, and a confirmed AvGeek.


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