The 19-year-old Belgian-British pilot Zara Rutherford set a world record as the youngest woman to fly solo around the world, touching her small airplane down in western Belgium on Thursday — 155 days after she departed.
She made it count for herself, her family and dedicated it to all young women trying to succeed in male-dominated sectors like aviation, and the exact sciences that drive the industry.
“Go for it. It takes a lot of time, patience, a lot of work, but it is incredible,” she said after an adventure that gave her as many thrills as scares — from the frozen tundra in Siberia to typhoons in the Philippines and the stark beauty of the Arabian desert.
One time, her one-seater Shark microlight plane filled up with the stench of California wildfires. Often she was flying in absolute solitude over seas or desolate land, any potential rescue hours away. She had to spend weeks isolated in the tiny Siberian village of Ayan with barely any contact with her family or the world she knows.
So little felt as sweet as Thursday’s embrace with her pilot parents and brother.
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