Belgian 19-year-old pilot Zara Rutherford landed in South Korea on one of her stopovers in her attempt to become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world in an ultralight aircraft. The Brussels Times reports that Rutherford received assistance from a helpful KLM pilot on her way to South Korea, above the Sea of Japan.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap news, Rutherford landed her aircraft, Shark, at Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul coming from Vladivostok, Russia. The young pilot made a stopover in South Korea after authorities in China and Japan denied her landing because of tight border restrictions in both territories in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Growing up, I didn’t see many women in these sectors and it was pretty discouraging. So I aspire to be able to change that.Zara Rutherford
Traveling under the current circumstances “is proving to be a challenge,” the aviatrix, who was scheduled to leave South Korea on Monday December 13th from Muan County, some 385 kilometers south of Seoul, told cameras waiting for her at the South Korean airport.
Rutherford, who intended to cross 52 countries between August 18th, when she departed Belgium, and November 1, when she was expected to land in Germany, said everyone in the countries she has already reached “has been very generous, very kind.”
Rutherford was stuck in Russian territory for a month due to a visa issue and will not be able to meet her goal of completing the journey before Christmas, as planned. The pilot now hopes to complete her journey on January 14th. She has been sharing content about her journey through her project page, FlyZolo, and her social networks.
I really hope to encourage girls and young women to go into aviation, science, technology, engineering and mathematicsZara Rutherford
She began her 51,000-kilometer journey last August from Kortrijk-Wevelgem International Airport in Belgium and has since covered the United Kingdom, the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Canada and Russia. Her next destination will be Taiwan. She then plans to cover the Philippines and Thailand, before heading to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Greece, according to his current plans.
The daughter of two pilots, Zara is not the youngest pilot to attempt to circumnavigate the globe solo, as an 18-year-old Briton, Travis Ludlow, accomplished it in July. But, she is aiming to be the youngest woman to achieve this feat. Beyond the record, she is interested in becoming an inspiration.
Rutherford is attempting to beat the record currently held by American Shaesta Waiz, who in 2017 and at the age of 30 became the youngest woman to complete a solo round-the-world flight. According to CNN, the young pilot will start university next year, and has the dream of becoming an astronaut.