‘Trailblazing pilot’: Youngest woman to fly solo around the world to speak at Nanaimo event

'Trailblazing pilot': Youngest woman to fly solo around the world to speak at Nanaimo event
Photo: fly.zolo/Instagram
Zara Rutherford is pictured.

The youngest woman to fly solo around the world is arriving on Vancouver Island this month, as part of a special aviation event that’s open to the public, according to Nanaimo Airport.

Zara Rutherford, who achieved the milestone in 2022 when she was 19 years old, will be the keynote speaker at the BC Aviation Council’s annual conference signature dinner happening on May 28 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

Not only is the Belgium native, now 21, a record-breaking pilot, but she’s also a “passionate advocate for women’s empowerment and gender equality,” says Nanaimo Airport.

“Hailing from a family deeply rooted in aviation, Zara is dedicated to carrying forward this legacy and inspiring young women to pursue their aspirations while working to narrow the gender gap in the aviation and STEM fields.”

The Guinness World Record holder completed the solo circumnavigation of the globe in a small aircraft just months before her brother, Mack Rutherford, became the youngest person to achieve the same feat at 17.

READ PREVIOUS: Teen pilot sets age record for solo flight around world

“I gave him advice on the route, on the flight, so that I could be useful to him,” said Rutherford in August 2022, lauding her brother in an interview.

She soared above 52 countries and five continents in a Shark UL, one of the fastest ultralight aircraft. Its cruising speed is 300 kilometres per hour, the company says.

“The aircraft has been specially prepared for such a long journey,” reads the FlyZolo.com website, which tracked Rutherford’s journey and shared her story.

She landed back in Wevelgem, Belgium, on Jan. 20, 2022, 155 days after she set out on Aug. 18, 2021.

Before then, the youngest woman record holder was Shaesta Waiz, who was 30 at the time of her flight. “I am happy not only to break the Guinness World Record of youngest woman flying solo around the world but also to reduce the gender gap by 11 years,” added Rutherford at the time.

She was also the first woman to circumnavigate the world in a microlight and, additionally, the first-ever Belgian to circumnavigate the world solo by air.

Tickets for the dinner event in the Harbour City are available to the public at $99 per person and can be purchased through this website.

“Don’t miss out on this extraordinary dinner evening and listen firsthand to the journey of a trailblazing pilot who has inspired millions,” added Nanaimo Airport.

Photos on Rutherford’s Instagram from 2022 show when she arrived home five months after setting out on her feat:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Zara Rutherford (@fly.zolo)

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!