On August 18th, 19-year old Zara Rutherford embarked on an around-the-world solo flight, with hopes of becoming the youngest woman to fly around the world solo.
In 2017, Shaesta Waiz became the “youngest woman to fly around the world solo in a single engine aircraft” at the age of 30. Zara is hoping to break her record. However, readers of Fate on a Folded Wing will know that Joan Merriam Smith actually completed a flight at a younger age than Shaesta, who was just 27 when she finished her solo flight around the equator in 1964 without GPS following Earhart’s same route. (Joan flew a twin-engine plane vs. Shaesta’s single engine.)
Zara’s undertaking is aimed at bringing more awareness to both women in aviation and STEM. She is following a western route from Belgium via Greenland through to New York on her 32,000 mile voyage. After that, she’ll fly down to South America, back up through North America and over to Russia, through Asia, Indonesia, the Middle East, Europe, and back to Belgium. She expects that due to potential weather delays and anticipated bureaucratic tape, that her flight will take about three months to complete.
To date there have technically been just 10 women who have completed solo flights around the world. While there were at least two other women who completed solo flights during the Great Depression—before any woman had yet completed a solo flight across the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean—it wasn’t until 1964 that an official solo flight around the world was made by a woman! (Read more about the 10 women who have completed solo flights around the globe here, plus Mary Petre Bruce and Elly Beinhorn who completed unofficial world flights in the 1930s.)
Around-the-World Solo Flights Completed by Women | 1964 – 2017
- Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock (1964)
- Joan Merraim Smith (1964)
- Sheila Scott (1966, 1969, and 1971)
- Judith Chisholm (1980)
- Gaby Kennard (1989)
- Jennifer Murray (2000) *Used helicopter
- Polly Vacher (2001, 2004)
- CarolAnn Garratt (2003, 2011-12)
- Julie Wang (2016)
- Shaesta Waiz (2017)