✦ The World is at Zara Rutherford's Feet
Move over Phileas Fogg.
Zara Rutherford is the one in the cockpit now. She's on a real life around-the-world journey, and this is one exciting ride we do not want to miss.
This extraordinary young woman is at this very moment, as you are reading this, high up in the skies in a small airplane. Flying solo. Around the world.
She is 19 years old and knows exactly what she wants. And she's clearly out to get it.
Rewriting a New Reality for Women
She wants to use her mission to encourage girls and young women to dare to dream and to go for it.
There are two things that fuel Zara's passion - aviation and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). By making this solo journey around the world, Zara hopes to encourage other girls and young women to chase their dreams, whether it is to start flying, enter STEM-related careers or anything that they are capable of imagining.
We may be in the 21st century, but there is still a gender gap in industries such as aviation or in STEM. Many may not be aware of this, and the answers to a few simple questions leave us stumped.
Do you know how many commercial pilots are women? Only 5%. And what about computer scientists? How many are women? Just 15%.
We can ask why in sectors with amazing careers and opportunities, there are so few women. The statistics do not make much sense. In the STEM industry, the gender inequality was recently highlighted in a documentary in 2020. MIT's professor of biology Nancy Hopkins amongst other women scientists spoke up and brought to light the gender inequality in their sector.
Zara is the new generation of young women who are not afraid of stepping up and giving themselves the opportunities they deserve. Zara's role models are Lillian Bland, Bessie Coleman, Valentina Tereshkova and Amelia Earhart.
And one day, other young girls will be citing Zara Rutherford as their role model.
As Natural as Flying
Rather than say Zara is flying out of her comfort zone to accomplish her mission, it is in taking to the skies that Zara is truly in her comfort zone. In fact, Zara has been flying for as long as she could remember. Her parents are experienced pilots so flying is very much in her DNA. It was only natural that she started on her flight training as soon as she was of age. She qualified as a pilot last year.
And Zara's certainly not sitting around with the qualification gathering dust somewhere!
Putting herself on the path to achieving her dreams is where she is comfortably genuine and true to herself. When Zara finishes her journey around the world, she will be the youngest woman in the world to accomplish that.
On 18th August 2021, Zara's amazing journey started. She will be covering 52 countries across 5 continents. She first set off from Belgium and she headed west from there.
If you are in any of these countries, look up to the skies, and you may just spot that small plane with Zara in it, trailblazing her way through the clouds. She will be passing through the UK, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, USA, Latin America to Colombia. She will then head back north via Alaska, to Russia, China, Indonesia, India, Middle East and back to Belgium.
She plans to land in early November. You can even track where Zara is right this minute here. Talk about the wonders of technology!
A Fast Shark
That's what Zara is flying in.
A Shark Aero is a high-performance ultralight aircraft manufactured in Europe. Small planes do not mean they are less powerful. This Shark is incredibly fast, reaching cruising speeds of 300 km/h. 'Cruising' is hardly the appropriate term here to describe how it is moving! This is an aircraft that has been specially prepared for a long journey such as the one Zara has embarked on. It was designed and constructed as a fast cross-country airplane.
For those who are into planes, these amazing facts will make you want to jump into a Shark too:
Two-seat tandem aircraft
Smaller wing, variable-pitch propeller
Uses the most advanced technology of carbon fibre epoxy composite
Uncompromising on optimised aerodynamics
The fastest ultralight aircraft to date
Optimum cruising speed of 140 knots
Proven by world speed record
Received awards (e.g. the Aerokurier Readers Choice 2016 and Flieger Award 2012)
Powered by ROTAX 912 ULS 100 hp engine running WOODCOMP 2-blade adjustable propeller
Low operating costs
Long service life
Access to any public airport at optimum
Also, its cockpit interior offers first class comfort so rest assured Zara is sitting comfortably where she is on her long journey.
Zara definitely isn't as 'solo' as it seems. Her trusty Shark is with her through her entire journey, and she is also supported and followed the world over on her website and social media channels.
A Clear Mission
This is one long journey that Zara has thoroughly thought through. And we're not talking about just this solo flight. We're talking about Zara's mission to make a difference.
She has chosen charities and partners to raise awareness to encourage young girls and women to go further. Her aim is to inspire them to pursue their dreams, even if and especially if, those are in the traditionally male sphere.
Beyond this flight, Zara has her future clearly mapped out. As clearly as her routes on this long journey.
She has just completed her A-Levels in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Economics, and Physics. She plans to study computer science or computer engineering in university.
If you think flying around the world solo is a big enough challenge, you don't know Zara well enough yet. She plans to go even further beyond the stratosphere.
Her next dream is to become an astronaut. You really can't keep Zara on the ground for long! She wants to fly, and we hope she does!
Shoot for the moon, Zara!
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