RIYADH – Zara Rutherford, a Belgian-British teenage pilot, landed in Saudi Arabia on Thursday in her attempt to break the record for the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.

Passing through 52 countries in a microlight aircraft, Rutherford stopped off in the Kingdom from the UAE as part of her tour. Her world tour is meant to encourage girls and women to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the adventurous young pilot, in coordination with the Saudi Aviation Club, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Riyadh Airports Company, aims to shed light on the role of women in the aviation sector, and in particular empower Saudi women in the field in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Rutherford said she was pleased to arrive in Riyadh and that the flight had exceeded all her expectations and gave her unforgettable moments and tremendous challenges.

“I enjoyed the wonderful view when flying over the Kingdom, and every moment I had was an exceptional experience,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford set out on the epic flight in August from Kortrijk-Wevelgem International Airport in western Belgium, with the goal of flying 32,000 miles (51,499 kilometres) across five continents.

The 19-year-old, who obtained a special flight licence from the US Federal Aviation Administration and the UK on August 18, is piloting one of the world’s fastest lightweight aircraft, the Shark Ultralight, which is the world’s fastest two-seater single-engine light aircraft, and can reach a speed of 300 kilometres per hour.


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