British adventurer, 19, lands in Seoul on round-the-world mission

British adventurer, 19, lands in Seoul as she reaches Asia on gap year attempt to become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world

  • Zara Rutherford, 19, is aiming to be the youngest woman to fly around the world
  • The teenager left Belgium in August and has just traversed Russia to South Korea
  • She arrived in Seoul in Saturday after a month in Russia due to ‘visa and weather’

Teenage pilot Zara Rutherford landed in South Korean capital Seoul on Saturday from Russia – the first Asian stop on her attempt to become the youngest woman to fly around the world solo.

On August 18, the 19-year-old British-Belgian national departed from Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport in western Belgium on her 32,000 mile journey, which will span five continents and 52 countries including the United States, Greenland, Russia and Colombia. 

Miss Rutherford spoke to reporters at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul after arriving from Vladivostok in her bespoke Shark ultralight plane, the world’s fastest microlight. 

‘It has been challenging,’ she said, adding that she was stuck in both Alaska and Russia for a month each because of ‘visa and weather issues’.

‘I was hoping to complete it by Christmas but I guess that’s not happening anymore, but it is an adventure.’

The daughter of two pilots, 19-year-old Zara Rutherford is aiming to be the youngest woman to fly around the world solo and has aspirations of becoming an astronaut

Miss Rutherford arrived in Seoul, South Korea, on Saturday after travelling from Vladivostok, Russia, as part of her round-the world trip

Miss Rutherford will stay in a hotel before her planned departure for Taiwan on Monday and said she expects to complete her journey by mid-January.

With enhanced COVID-related travel restrictions, the pioneering pilot said she has been banned from seeing local attractions in some countries.

‘I’m seeing these places from the air and that is the most incredible thing,’ she said. 

‘Although I’m not always allowed to go and visit, walk around and check out museums and restaurants, I can always see them from the air and it’s pretty incredible.’

Aside from entering the record books, the teenager has also expressed hope that her voyage will encourage girls and women to study and work in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and spark their interest in aviation.

Zara Rutherford pictured on Saturday in South Korean capital Seoul – the first Asian stop on her attempt to become the youngest woman to fly around the world solo

Miss Rutherford, 19 pictured departing from Wevelgem, Belgium, on August 18 for a round-the-world trip in a light aircraft

Miss Rutherford is seeking to usurp the title held by from Shaesta Wais, who became the youngest woman to fly solo round the world at age 30 in 2017. 

The youngest male record holder, Mason Andrews, was 18 years old when he made the journey in 2018.

Born to two pilots, Miss Rutherford is set to start university next year with the dream of becoming an astronaut.

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