Zara Rutherford, 19, landed back home today at Kortrijk-Wevelgem in Belgium to complete her round-the-world challenge. She is the youngest woman to fly solo around the world following a five-month challenge.
She arrived two months later than planned as a result of adverse weather. During the trip she spent a month stuck in Nome, Alaska, and 41 days in Russia.
She was accompanied in her landing by four planes from the Belgian Red Devils aerobatic display team.
She told a press conference she was “so glad” she took on the challenge of flying 32,000 miles (51,000 km).
“The hardest part was flying over Siberia – it was extremely cold and if the engine was to stall I’d be hours away from rescue. I’m not sure I would have survived,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to telling people about my experiences and encouraging people to do something crazy with your life. If you have the opportunity – go for it.”
Her flight included more than 60 stops across five continents, and began on 18 August. The challenge was made possible by sponsors including her former school in Hampshire, and Shark – the Slovakian manufacturer of her Shark UL aircraft.
As well as being the youngest woman to complete the challenge, Ms Rutherford is the first woman to circumnavigate the world in a microlight, and the first Belgian to circumnavigate the world solo by air.