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. It is in fact a dream gap as our dreams are shaped from early childhood through the fairy tales and role models we are exposed to. Boys learn through toys, street names, history classes and movies that they can be scientists, astronauts, CEO’s or presidents. Girls are often encouraged to be beautiful, kind, helpful and sweet. With my flight I want to show young women that they can be bold, ambitious and make their dreams come true.
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.