My name is Zara Rutherford, I am 19 years old. I have just completed my A-Levels in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Economics, and Physics, and hope to go to university to study computer science/computer engineering. I have been flying for as long as I can remember and one of my biggest dreams (as well as flying around the world!) is becoming an astronaut.
In August 2021 I left Belgium heading West, flying solo around the world flying in a very small plane. If I succeed, I will be youngest woman ever to fly solo around the world as well as the youngest person to fly solo around the world in a microlight.
I was born into a family of aviators and was lucky to have great role models in my parents and grandparents. I want to build on this heritage and inspire others. My aim is to encourage girls and young women to pursue their dreams and promote aviation and STEM-related careers (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) for them. Only 5% of commercial pilots and 15% of computer scientists are women. In both areas – aviation and STEM – the gender gap is huge. In fact it is a dream gap. Our dreams are formed in early childhood. Children are being told fairy tales like the Sleeping Beauty, where the prince travels with style and courage through difficult and dangerous places. The princess is beautiful, sleeps and waits for the prince to rescue her. Boys learn from history books, street signs and statues, that they can be scientists, astronauts or CEO’s. They are much more likely to receive science-related toys and are being encouraged to be bold. Girls get gifted dolls and are expected to be charming, beautiful and sweet. Upbringings shape our dreams.
The youngest man to have flown solo around the world, Travis Ludlow, was 18 years old. The youngest woman, Shaesta Waiz was 30 at the time of her flight. With my flight I hope to reduce this gap from 11 years to 11 months.
I hold FAA and UK private pilot licences plus Slovakian and French microlight licences. I have been a member of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots since 2019.