Youngest female pilot to fly solo around the world takes off
British-Belgian pilot Zara Rutherford, 19, poses before taking off for a round-the-world trip in a light aircraft, in bid to become the youngest to fly solo round-the-world in Wevelgem.–AFP
Zara’s adventure began when she took off from Kortrijk airfield in Belgium in her two-seat Shark microlight aircraft on Wednesday.
Zara’s stated aim and motivation for the trip is “to inspire young people, in particular girls, to engage in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects at school and to motivate them to enter into technical or scientific careers”.
What makes Zara’s round-the-world attempt even more remarkable is that she has only held her private pilot’s licence for under two years, having qualified at the age of just 17. The aircraft selected to carry her safely around the globe is a Shark UL, a cutting-edge example of the most modern high-performance two-seat tandem ultralight aircraft. It features retractable undercarriage and a smaller, high-efficiency wing design together with a variable-pitch propeller and a high-tech cockpit interior.
The aircraft is designed and constructed using the most advanced carbon fibre epoxy composite technology and incorporates many light-weighting design features such as the use of adhesive bonding to replace mechanical fixings. Zara’s machine is powered by a ROTAX 912 ULS 100 hp engine delivering a cruising speed of 140 knots and a range of around 1,600 km. She will visit 52 countries spanning five continents and will take around three months to complete her record-breaking attempt.
Commenting on the forthcoming adventure, Eurobond Adhesives’ Managing Director Simon Dearing, himself a keen aviator, says: “Zara is a truly remarkable and courageous young woman and is a great role model, especially so for other young women. Our business shares much in common with Zara: embracing cutting-edge technology, pushing boundaries and challenging science – in our case to produce some of the best high-performance adhesives and most advanced adhesive dispensing machinery and equipment. 70% of the Eurobond workforce is female and everyone here will be following her world record attempt with a keen eye. We wish her a safe and successful trip!”