Teen aviator Zara Rutherford tries to fly the world solo

Zara Rutherford, 19, was about 20 minutes away on a flight from Iceland to Greenland when her small plane lost radio contact with the ou...


Zara Rutherford, 19, was about 20 minutes away on a flight from Iceland to Greenland when her small plane lost radio contact with the outside world.

As she flew about 1,500 feet over the Strait of Denmark, staying low to dodge the clouds, she listened to a podcast in which a YouTube celebrity argued that the only certainty in life is death.

“I was like, well, that’s kind of what worries me,” Ms. Rutherford said. “It was pretty funny and it made me laugh. If only she knew!

Mrs Rutherford, who is Belgian and British, started his journey in Belgium last week and plans to return on November 3 after touring more than 52 countries on five continents.

If she does, she will overtake Shaesta Waiz become the youngest woman to circumnavigate the world solo in a single-engine plane. (Travis Ludlow, a British aviator, did it in july at the age of 18.)

Two months ago Ms Rutherford emailed Ms Waiz, 34, who completed the trip in 2017, to ask him if it was acceptable to contest his case. The answer was an enthusiastic yes.

“I told her I was so proud of her for being so brave – and so young – to do this,” Ms. Waiz said. “That’s the problem with records: they are made to be broken. “

Ms Rutherford said she sees her own journey not only as a personal challenge, but also as a way to raise awareness of the gender gap in areas such as aviation, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

During the trip, she used social media to highlight the stories of remarkable women in aviation and other fields. Its list includes Bessie coleman, the first African-American woman in the United States to obtain a pilot’s license, and Lilian bland, a British aviation pioneer who would be the first woman to design, build and fly her own aircraft.

After Mrs. Rutherford arrived in Iceland last week she met the country’s justice minister, 30, Aslaug Arna Sigurbjornsdottir, in an airport hangar. “Such a great example for women, to see that we are capable of much more than what we sometimes think, believe or dream!” Mrs. Rutherford wrote on Facebook.

As a child, Ms Rutherford said, she didn’t have many female role models. People were talking to him Amelia Earhart, the American aviator who disappeared in 1937 during a world tour. “But as an 8 or 9 year old,” added Ms Rutherford, “he’s not someone you really know or admire.”

She found other models closer to her home. His mother, Beatrice De Smet, is a recreational pilot and his father, Sam Rutherford, is a professional who flies planes around the world for clients. She has been accompanying him for years, sometimes doing part of the journey herself.

His longest trip so far was from Texas to Jordan. “Well, it was supposed to be from Texas to India, but I had to go back to school,” she said, laughing in a phone interview from Greenland.

This time, crossing the Atlantic is just the beginning. It will follow the east coast of the United States before diving in Colombia via the British Virgin Islands. Then it will cross Mexico, up the west coast of California and north to Alaska, after a detour through Montana.

After crossing the Bering Strait into Russia, it will fly over China, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, before returning to Europe. She said the only country she intentionally avoided was North Korea.

The road is almost comical undulating, in part, she says, because her two-seater plane is unable to fly long distances over oceans, but also because she likes the idea of ​​a great adventure.

“I could have made it shorter, but I feel like it would have been pretty boring,” she said.

The sponsors and the airports cover the cost of the trip, and a Slovak company, Shark Aero, supplies him with the plane. She also has support staff to organize landing rights and other logistical aspects, and her father advises her from the field on technical specifics.

After her radio was cut off during the trip to Greenland, for example, he asked her in a text message if she was able to climb through holes in the clouds to an altitude where visibility would be better.

Michael Fabry, a ferry pilot who lives in Belgium and flew about 10,500 feet above Ms Rutherford during part of her Iceland-Greenland journey, said she would benefit immensely from a support team to help to logistics, especially in Asia and Middle East.

But she will inevitably encounter strong winds, he added, as well as clouds that she will not be able to cross because her plane is not certified to fly only with instruments.

“This means that she has to fly very low, and very low is not a safe condition if you are above water,” Mr. Fabry, a former commercial pilot, said by telephone.

“She’s got a bit of experience, but what she’s doing is really, really, really brave, I have to say,” he added. ” I am a bit worried. I’m sure the rest of the world is worried as well.

Ms Rutherford said she was under pressure to reach Russia by the end of September to avoid the onset of bad weather, and that security was her priority. Before leaving she practiced escape from a plane in an underwater simulator.

She finds flying over water stressful, she says, and listens to podcasts to calm her nerves. When she made a windy landing in Greenland last week after being without radio contact for most of the three-hour flight from Iceland, she sent her parents a two-word text: “I’m alive. .

“It was a very long flight. I’m really happy to be on the pitch, to be honest, ”she said in a Instagram video, adding that at one point, the weak cloud cover had forced her to fly just 600 feet above the ocean.

She was delayed for two days in Greenland, where she spent time with NASA scientists – due to bad weather. But on Monday, she completed her transatlantic crossing in disembarkation at Goose Bay, Canada. Fire trucks on the tarmac greeted her with a water cannon salute.

Ms Rutherford is due to land at Kennedy International Airport in New York on Thursday, a rare destination for a airplane it’s only about 22 feet long. (It was his dad’s idea, he thought it would be cool.)

“It will definitely be the biggest airfield I land on in my life,” she said. “So I’m pretty excited. “



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Newsrust - US Top News: Teen aviator Zara Rutherford tries to fly the world solo
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