Teenage pilot in solo round-world record bid

Image source, PA Media

Image caption,

Zara Rutherford will fly a Shark UL ultralight sport aircraft

A teenage pilot is attempting to become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.

Zara Rutherford, 19, will see 52 countries and cross the equator twice during her trip, starting next month.

The former pupil of St Swithun's School, Winchester, announced the bid at nearby Popham Airfield, Hampshire.

The current female record holder is American Shaesta Waiz, who was 30 at the time of her challenge in 2017. The youngest male record-holder was 18.

Miss Rutherford, who lives in Belgium, is due begin her three-month circumnavigation from Brussels on 11 August.

She said: "The greatest challenge will be the remote places like northern Russia or Greenland - there aren't many people who live there so if anything were to go wrong I would be in a bit of an awkward situation.

"I've got a bit of nerves and excitement, sometimes both."

Image source, PA Media

Image caption,

The teenager, pictured with her brother and parents, will set off next month

Miss Rutherford, who comes from a family of pilots, began training when she was 14 and gained her pilot's licence in 2020.

She said: "My mum took some convincing but she got there, my dad is very supportive and is helping with the logistics."

The teenager will be flying a Shark UL, an ultralight sport aircraft which holds a number of speed records.

She will cross the Atlantic, over Greenland, Canada and South America, up to Alaska, then crossing to Russia and Indonesia before returning to Europe.

The route has been chosen to fulfil Guinness World Records' requirements to be an "around-the-world flight".

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