Two Cyrus-type light aircraft flew ahead to show Zara Rutherford the way to the small Egelsbach airport in the Offenbach district.

Two fire engines are ready and spray a kind of archway with thick jets of water as a welcome.

After landing, the 19-year-old pilot drives through the arch of water, climbs onto the left wing of her microlight in her pink sneakers and accepts flowers.

She's almost there on her big journey.

19-year-old Rutherford wants to become the youngest woman in history to fly solo around the world in a light aircraft.

The Belgian, who also has a British passport, also wants to send a specific message to girls.

Egelsbach is the last stopover before returning to Belgium on the last leg, where it all began.

Pilot in survival mode

This Wednesday afternoon she jumps onto the asphalt of the airfield, she still doesn't want to get used to the feeling of solid ground under her feet.

Flying doesn't actually scare her, as Rutherford says.

"I then get into survival mode." The big challenge on this trip around the world was always getting back on the plane and leaving the safe ground under your feet.

But this Thursday she will again climb onto the wing of her small plane in her pink sneakers and take off. In addition to a world record, Rutherford has one goal: She wants to inspire girls and young women to climb into the cockpit and fly like them. Only five percent of airline pilots are women. "If a girl is interested in aviation and sees me, she might know she's not alone."

Almost exactly a year ago, Rutherford decided to make the journey, she said.

On August 18 last year, the time had come.

She boarded the Shark light aircraft, one of the fastest microlights in the world, and took off.

She crossed the Atlantic, stopped in Iceland.

There she flew over an active volcano.

"It was wonderful," she enthuses, looking back as she speaks to media representatives in the hangar.

She also made a stopover in Greenland before moving on to Canada.

She then crossed the US East Coast, heading south through the Caribbean and into Colombia.

From there we continued along the west coast, right through the burning forests of California.

She could smell the smoke several kilometers in the air in her cockpit.

“Just nothing to see for miles”

After fiery heat came an icy wind: via Alaska and the dangerous Bering Sea she reached Siberia.

She remembers an unexpected emptiness.

“There was simply nothing to see for miles.

No sign of human civilization.

Sometimes not even plants.”

After many interruptions due to weather conditions, Rutherford made it to Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, India and via the Middle East, Hungary and finally to Egelsbach.

Looking forward to simple home cooking

Shortly before the finish, she is cautiously looking forward to the little things that she missed.

Her parents, her cats, her favorite sandwich shop.

And above all – simple home cooking.

"I'm fed up with restaurant and hotel food," she says, smiling.

But your mind stays focused.

To her real goal: the world record, the inspiration for all the girls who dream of flying.

But after half a year mainly in the air, she thinks mainly of her last station.


Home at last.