FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - A young European woman continues to soar to new heights, as she prepares to become the youngest female in history to fly solo around the world.
Zara Rutherford is set to earn that title on Monday, when she lands in her native country of Belgium.
“It’s a dream I’ve had my entire life,” she said.
It was in Belgium where her journey began last year. South Florida became one of her stops when she landed at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Aug. 31.
“I have been to, well, Belgium, I traveled through the U.K., Iceland, Greenland, Canada and then the U.S.,” said the 19-year-old. “Now I’m here in Miami.”
Both of Rutherford’s parents are pilots, and she said this journey soars beyond her own accomplishments.
“I’m hoping to encourage girls to get into STEM, so science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and aviation,” she said. “This is something that, growing up, I didn’t see many women do, and so that was always quite discouraging for me, so I’m hoping to change that.”
In order for her trip to qualify as a flight around the world, the Belgian-British pilot needed to reach two countries on opposite sides of the planet. She chose Colombia and Indonesia.
If all goes well, she’ll have flown 32,000 miles, covering five continents and 52 countries.
“It was just a crazy idea, and I always thought it would be impossible, but then I decided, if I didn’t tell anyone about it, then it’s never going to happen,” she said, “so I told my parents, and straight away they’re like, ‘Yes, let’s do this.'”
Rutherford will soon trade in her plane for textbooks. She is preparing to start college this year, and she aspires to become an astronaut one day.
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