Friday 27 January 2023

Zara Rutherford makes stopover in Costa Rica on her flight around the world

The young pilot is looking for a record in the air. She wants to inspire more women to pursue aviation and STEM careers.

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QCOSTARICA – The Tobías Bolaños airport, in Pavas, received this Tuesday the 19-year-old Belgian pilot, Zara Rutherford, a young woman who is about to become the youngest woman to go around the world alone in an ultralight plane.

Zara Rutherford says that she does not want to make stops at the world’s big airports, on the contrary, she prefers to reach those with fewer flights per day. Here she, she next to her plane when arriving in Costa Rica, at the Pavas airport. (Alber Marín)

San José, Costa Rica, is the 23rd city where she landed and her visit was sponsored by the Costa Rican company Aerodiva, as part of the celebration of the country’s Bicentennial of Independence.

“Originally Costa Rica was not included in her plans, but Zara kindly accepted our invitation,” the company said through a press release.

A girl named Lucia – who wants to study aviation – handed the Costa Rican flag to the pilot when she got off her ship. Photo Albert Marín
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Zara took off from Tocumen, Panama, entered through the South Caribbean, took a western route over Limón and entered the Central Valley through the eastern sector of the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), landing around 9 am, in the middle of a water arch provided by the Fire Department.

Read more: 50 years ago: New Pavas airport convinces Don Pepe

The airport explained that the reception was perfect. Although the arrival was scheduled for this Monday, weather conditions forced a postponed to this Tuesday.

Zara is flying a 325-kilogram Shark UL (two-seat) aircraft, made in Slovakia, which flies at a speed of 260 km/h and is powered by a 100-horsepower Rotax engine.

She left Belgium on August 18 and so far she has flown more than 15,000 kilometers. Her goal is to make stops in 52 countries on five continents.

Zara Rutherford, 19, is looking for a record in the air. She wants to inspire more women to pursue aviation and STEM careers

Among her destinations are England, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, the United States, the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Colombia, Panama, and now Costa Rica.

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Zara crosses the countries in complete solitude. She only carries with her a suitcase, a satellite phone and a radio to be able to communicate with the air traffic controllers.

She has a Belgian work team that supports her remotely with air permits for landings. From then on she is alone against the world.

Message to women

With her challenge, Zara wants to motivate and encourage more women to enter the fields of aviation.

She also invites them to venture into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, as they are spaces where there is an under-representation of female professionals.

Zara Rutherford comes from a family of pilots and that has allowed her, at just 19 years old, to have already flown several types of ships. (Facebook FlayZolo)
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The young pilot says she plans to study Computer Science and one day become an astronaut.

For now, she hopes to break the record of Afghan-American Shaesta Waiz, who circumnavigated the globe alone in 2017 at the age of 30.

In fact, Zara Rutherford made it a point to make a stop in Jacksonville, Florida, to meet Shaesta.

Whilst Zara Rutherford is attempting to break the world record of the youngest woman flying solo around the world, hoping at the same time to inspire girls and young women to follow their dreams, let’s talk about the “National Women’s Air Derby”, also known as the “Powder Puff Derby”. Image from Facebook
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