Women account for just 5% of commercial airline pilots and are consistently underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. One Belgian-British teenager has made it her mission to try and change that, and she’s come up with a pretty novel method: spreading the word by flying around the world, bagging a couple of world records while she’s at it.
There was no cabin crew on board to prepare for this landing.
As 19-year-old Zara Rutherford touched down in Belgium, she became the youngest woman in history to fly solo around the world and the youngest person to do so in a microlight aircraft.
A hero’s welcome awaited her.
Rutherford’s round-the-world ride spanned five continents and covered 52,000 kilometers.
She raised money through sponsorship and often stayed with host families.
She shared the highs and lows of her adventure online.
It took much longer than planned — and there were moments of turbulence.
Beyond breaking records, Zara had a bigger mission.
Meeting locals and giving talks along the way, she tried to inspire other girls and young women to get involved in aviation, science and technology.
Back on Belgian soil, that work continues.
Barely out of high school, Zara Rutherford plans to keep her feet on solid ground for now and apply for university. But, she hopes her double world record will encourage girls everywhere to spread their wings in any way they can.

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