Off she goes…into the Wild Blue Yonder. Raise a glass to young Zara Rutherford, who aims to be the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.
She arrived in Anchorage at Merrill Field this afternoon from Juneau (with a brief stop in Yakutat).
Rutherford, 19, is flying around the world in her “Shark” ultralight aircraft. Take a look at her website (flyzolo.com) where you can see her route from Belgium to England, Iceland, Greenland and Canada. From there, she flew down the east coast and to South America, before heading north again. When her journey is over, she will have visited approximately 52 countries.
Her “Shark” has a range of 1,000 nautical miles, with a cruising speed of 140-150 knots/hour.
Rutherford is flying around the world to encourage young girls and women to pursue their dreams. There’s a soft spot in her heart to get more women in aviation and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
During her trip, which started on Aug. 18, Zara said she’s learned quite a bit about the weather. “There’s the forecast—and then there’s reality,” she said with a smile.
As a solo pilot on a long jouney, she’s also learned to be resourceful.
“Out of 40 flights so far, only 10 have gone smoothly, according to plan. On all the other flights, there’s been turbulence, or problems with the plane,” she said.
“Chances are something will go wrong (on the flight). You have to learn to react and improvise,” she said.
Although the Shark has a range of 1,000 nautical miles, with eight hours of fuel, Zara said she never flies more than five hours , “to allow for contingencies.”
“It gets lonely sometimes. And it’s funny—time can go slowly and quickly at the same time,” she said, recalling her time flying over Greenalnd.
When she leaves Anchorage, she’ll fly up to Nome. From there, she’s scheduled to fly west across the international date line to Anadyr, Russia.
Fair Winds, Zara.
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