Youngest woman to fly around the world

January 17, 2022
"If you don't try and see how high you can fly, then you'll never know."

Zara Rutherford, 19, earned a spot in the Guinness World Records as the youngest woman to fly solo around the world when she landed in a Belgium airport on Thursday; she’s 11 years younger than the previous record holder was. Rutherford’s global odyssey spanned more than 32,000 miles, 41 countries and “a long five months.” Rutherford, the daughter of pilots and a British-Belgian dual citizen, encountered a number of obstacles – including dangerous wildfires over California, a typhoon in the Philippines and navigating around North Korean airspace (read her account on our source page).

“She Flew Around the World in 155 Days. She’s Only 19.”-New York Times

“Teen pilot Zara Rutherford becomes youngest woman to fly the world solo”-CNN

“Typhoons, wildfires, missiles: Teen flies solo round world”-Associated Press

  • Excerpt from the Associated Press: Keep away from test missiles in North Korea. What? Wait. As teenage pilot Zara Rutherford flew ever onward in a record-challenging global odyssey, she met little as strange or scary as when she tried to squeeze in between North Korean airspace and a massive cloud threatening to cut off passage for her ultralight plane. “Well, they test missiles once in a while without warning,” Rutherford said. More importantly, she was just 15 minutes from flying over one of the last places one should enter uninvited. So she radioed her control team to ask if she could cut the corner over the isolationist communist dictatorship to get to Seoul. “Straight away they said: ‘Whatever you do, do not go into North Korean airspace!’” Fortunately the clouds cooperated enough and she didn’t have to continue the crash course in applied geopolitics.

Rutherford’s Instagram

by Jenna Lee,