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Flying solo, 19-year-old woman, takes off on round-the-world record bid

Pilot Zara Rutherford, 19, took off on Wednesday at the start of a 51,000 km bid to become the youngest woman to fly solo round the world.

Rutherford departed from Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport in western Belgium in her Shark ultralight, the world's fastest microlight aircraft. 

The British-Belgian flyer hopes her voyage will encourage more girls and women to study and work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and spark girls' interest in aviation.

Rutherford is seeking to win the title from Shaesta Wais, who became the youngest woman to fly solo round the world at 30.

The youngest male record holder, Mason Andrews, was 18 years old when he made the journey.

Rutherford's route will take about three months, with stops in 52 countries- including Greenland, China and Nicaragua - where she will stay with local families or in hotels.

"So on average I fly around five hours a day and then it consists of three days of flying and then one break, one rest day," she said, adding her two main concerns were fatigue and loneliness. 

Born to parents who are both pilots, Rutherford will start university next year, with the dream of becoming an astronaut.

"We'll see how that goes. But that would be amazing," she said.

(Source: Reuters)

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