A British-Belgian 19-year-old girl wants to fly around the world on an ultralight aircraft and beat a world record


Zara Rutherford, a young woman of 19 wants to be the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe alone on a sports plane, a record currently held by 30-year-old American Shaesta Wai.

Zara Rutherford is the daughter of Sam Rutherford (who is a member of our forum and the organiser of the Zoute Air Trophy), a former British Army pilot stationed in Belgium. Thanks to him, she developed a taste for flying and started flying to get her pilot’s licence at age 15. Her mother is Belgian and she has a dual Belgian and British citizenship

Zara is preparing her record attempt at Popham airfield in southern England. She trains in particular on a flight simulator.

In her solo flight, Zara Rutherford will fly over 52 countries and cover 27,685 nautical miles (50,100 kilometres). Starting from Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport (Belgium) on 18 August at 10:30 (UTC+2), she will first fly over the United Kingdom, then reach Iceland and Greenland, before flying over the Atlantic Ocean to Canada, the U.S., the Caribbean,  joining the north of South America before returning through Central America to the U.S., Canada, Alaska, overflying the Pacific and reaching South Asia, and finally, come back to the Middle East and Europe. She hopes to be back in Belgium on 4 October, but her schedule is subject to changes

© Zara Rutherford

Her aim is to inspire young women and girls to pursue whatever they may be interested in, even if that is seen as traditionally male.

If she succeeds, the Belgian-British pilot will beat the record for the youngest woman to have toured the world solo in a sports plane. The youngest man to ever fly a solo flight is currently American Mason Andrews, who was 18 at the time.

The ultralight sports aircraft that Zara Rutherford will attempt to break the record with is a Shark Aero, using the most advanced technology of carbon fibre epoxy composite and optimised aerodynamics, and considered the fastest ultralight aircraft. It is powered by a ROTAX 912 ULS 100 hp engine running WOODCOMP 2-blade adjustable propeller. It has a cruising speed of 140 knots (260 kilometres per hour) and a range of 1600 kilometres. Normally this is a two-seater, but for this adventure, a seat has been removed and an additional fuel tank has been added.

Shark Aero UL © Zara Rutherford


  1. Hello,

    First of all the legal for a pilot licence is 17 years old not 15 and second of all 140kots are 260km/h not 300.

    Please make sure to put the right information before publishing your articles.


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