20th of January 2022. Arrival of Zara Rutherford at Flanders Airport Wevelgem.

She is today the youngest woman (Belgian - British nationality) ever and first Belgian to fly around the world, circumnavigating the globe in an ULM Shark UL equipped with a Rotax 91 ULS (100 hp engine). !Registration : OM-S443 - serial : 080!

(circumnavigating is standing for to go completely around water, or the world, to circumnavigate the earth etc....)

The is one of the fastest ultralight aircraft in the world (up to 300 km/h) designed in the Czech Republic and manufactured in Slovakia.

An integrated parachute is included in this aircraft.

Other safety measures was a personal locator beacon (PLB) with a satellite connection, a survival suit and a life-raft in case of ditching in the water.

Stated in the official Guinness World records broken as : 

- The youngest person to circumnavigate by aircraft solo (female) is 19 years 199 days.

- The youngest person to circumnavigate solo by microlight is 19 years 199 days.

Both achieved by Zara Rutherford (birthday : Belgium 5th of July 2002)

Zara left Wevelgem 18th of August 2021 (return was foreseen October 2021) but due to weather delays she needed more time to fulfill her record breaking solo flight.

Especially in Alaska and Siberia (also VISA problems in Siberia) the winter conditions caused a lot of delays.

The parents of Zara are both pilots. Zara flew already with them when she was only 4 months old. She started at the age of 14 to become a pilot.

Both parents where also member of the support team that helped Zara with her succesfull attempt.

- Sam is Zara's father and was responsible for Flight Ops & Sponsorships. Sam is a former Army helicopter pilot.

- Beatrice is the mother of Zara and she was doing Social Media & !EE! (everything else)

- Megan Bowden is doing Flight Ops & is Press Officer

- Jacek Lawrecki was in charge of communications

- Adrian Sington did Speaking & Media

- Duncan Matthews was the Flight Safety Consultant

- Dumitru Marian was the Content Producer and Videographer

- Will Robson was Flight Instructor

- Arne von Bismarck did the follow-up of the Sponsorships.

- and John in the US to cover the time distance.

Zara flew over more than 50 countries.

She covered a total distance of 52,080.3 km (28,121 nautical miles).

The total time in the air was about 260 hours.

Takeoffs and landings : 71

She had 10 diversions to another airfield which was not foreseen in the flightplan.

And she returned twice to the same airfield.

This trip took 155 days.

Longest flight was 2,000 km (1,080 nautical miles)

Longest flight over water : 1,861 km (1,005 nautical miles)

Highest altitude : 4,200 metres (13,800 ft) over Greenland

Continents visited : 5 / Countries visited : 41

Highest temperature in flight : +36°C (Colombia)

Lowest temperature in flight : -25°C (Ayan Siberia, Russia) dropping at night to minus 35°C

I was also able to ask Zara a personal question and asked her : which was your most scary moment during the trip?

answer Zara : I had a few. She mentioned thunderstorms departing from Singapore with an unexpected near strike lightning.

Also the long trips over water was sometimes scary, thinking if the engine stops now I will end in the water. Even above land flying for hours where she noticed that no human being was living there. 

But she had also a lot of fun, she had a meeting with Richard Branson on his island, she was able to visit Space X. She was also in North Carolina, the birth place of aviation.  

If you ask Zara which place will remain in her mind she will definitely also mentioning Greenland. If you want holiday tips Zara mentioned Taiwan and Saudi-Arabia.

And during approach at JFK there where only buildings, no place to land if there was any emergency. Immediate after landing at JFK she had a follow-me car to avoid to get lost at this big airport. Funny was the departure. At such airport you have a long cue for take-offs. Therefore it was very funny to see the Shark between all those big aircrafts. You had Boeing, Airbus, Airbus, Boeing, Zara, Boeing, Boeing, Airbus and Airbus behind her. :-) 

The last trip from Zara from Germany towards her final destination Wevelgem in Belgium was not the easiest one with a lot of rain and snow in the area of Frankfurt. Taking a little bit longer to arrive at her final destination.

With a small delay she arrived at Wevelgem around 13.00

A lot of people attended her flyby with the Belgian Air Force display Team 'The Red Devils' and her smooth landing. Also the local fire department welcomed Zara and her 'Shark' with a water salute.

On the spot also a lot of press was attending this event : Reuters, Belga, CNN, BBC, VRT, VTM, RTBF and much more.....

I want to thank the team that I was able to attend this historic moment and want to give my congratulations to Zara and her team to accomplish this mission. Up to the next mission for Zara, becoming an astronaut.


Ps : To celebrate and honor her achievement Flanders Aviation Society (FAS) made already a memorial plaque. Zara was asked to reveal this plaque. (see also pictures below)

This plaque will get a nice place in the museum (FAS) at Wevelgem Airport.