She is on a mission to become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world, as her journey took her across Saudi Arabia. The 20-year-old British-Belgian pilot, Zara Rutherford, landed at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, on January 7, having just flown across the United Arab Emirates.
"I am being 100 percent honest about Saudi Arabia in terms of its natural beauty. I don't think I have seen anything like it. I am not used to the desert at all, and seeing Saudi Arabia has been really shocking and stunning for me," she told Arab News. She also expressed how welcoming Saudi citizens had been towards her, saying, "The people have been very kind; when I arrived here, I received a very nice and warm welcome."
In addition to her ongoing flight, Rutherford is on a mission to empower women across Saudi Arabia. In association with the Saudi Aviation Club, the Civil Aviation Authority, and the Riyadh Airports Company, her visit aims to share a spotlight on women in the aviation sector. This comes in line with the Kingdom's Vision 2030 goals to diversify the economy, while simultaneously getting more women into the workforce.
"I strive to achieve my goal of being the youngest woman in the world to fly solo around the world and set a record in the Guinness Book of World Records, in addition to encouraging girls and women to realize their dreams of such a flight and inspire them to pursue careers in science and aviation," Rutherford said.
Having just rounded up her stop in Saudi Arabia, Rutherford is expected to land in Belgium on January 13. She was looking forward to breaking three Guinness World Records while covering a distance of 51,499 kilometers across 52 countries. She currently plots a Shark.Aero Shark, a lightweight, low-wing aircraft that first debuted in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.