Zara Rutherford is a 19-year-old from Brussels, Belgium who is out to set a new record. The purpose of her trip is to achieve two Guinness World Records: one for being the youngest woman to fly an airplane around the world and the other for the first woman to do so on her own.
Rutherford, who works as a flight instructor at Brussels Airport, said she wants to inspire girls and young women to follow their dreams by setting an example of what can be done.
During her journey, she will fly her Cirrus SR22 four-seater aircraft at an average speed of 100 mph (160 km/h) or about eight hours per day.
The trip is self-funded, with Rutherford selling her car in order to raise money for it. Rutherford’s route takes her west through 52 countries, five continents, and crosses the equator twice — in Tumaco, Colombia (South America) and Jambi, Indonesia (Asia). This is part of the Guinness World Records’ requirements for an around-the-world flight.
Another cost of the trip is the environmental impact. While Rutherford says that total fuel for her trip is equivalent to the amount used in 10 minutes by a Boeing 747, she’s spending €600 ($710) on tree-planting projects to offset her carbon footprint.
“It’s not just about flying around the world, it’s also about learning how to be sustainable and environmentally friendly,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford said she was inspired to embark on this journey when her English teacher brought in a photo of Amelia Earhart and told her about the woman’s career as a pilot. Rutherford reflected, “From that moment on, I wanted to be just like her.”
With this around-the-world journey, Rutherford said she wants to encourage more young girls to pursue their dreams.
“I want them to know that nothing is impossible,” she said. “I want them to grow up knowing that they only need the courage and determination in order to follow their dreams.”