RIYAD: Zara Rutherford, who is trying to be the youngest woman to tour the world solo, touched down at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport on Thursday aboard her Shark light plane.
“I am 100% honest about Saudi Arabia in terms of natural beauty. I don’t think I saw anything like this. I’m not used to the desert at all, and seeing Saudi Arabia has been really shocking and breathtaking for me, ”Rutherford told Arab News.
“The people were very nice; when I arrived here, I received a very pleasant and warm welcome, ”she said.
The 19-year-old Anglo-Belgian pilot started her mission around the world because of her passion for aviation. Rutherford wants to encourage women in the aviation industry and inspire those around the world to leap into their dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem.
“I have always liked to fly. I’m very lucky that both of my parents are pilots, so I grew up around aviation. Flying around the world for me was just the biggest adventure and my biggest dream too, ”said Rutherford.
At first, she believed that her dream of adventure was completely impossible.
“I thought it was too expensive and too complicated, so I never really thought about it realistically, then I was finishing high school and actually realized it was the perfect opportunity to do something. crazy and fly around the world, ”she said.
As all of his friends planned their freshman year in college, Rutherford gathered sponsorships and mapped his flight across the globe.
As a solo traveler, Rutherford said, it can get lonely when you have no one else sitting behind you on the plane to chat with, but it gives her plenty of time to reflect, enjoy the scenery and listen to her thoughts. favorite podcasts. .
On her trip to the Kingdom, she said, she traveled from Dubai to Bahrain and across to Riyadh.
“It was great, it was a four and a half hour flight, and it was really easy and pleasant, then from Riyadh I went straight to Tabuk,” she said.
“I liked Saudi Arabia; it is a beautiful country, most of which we fly over today. It’s amazing how different deserts can be, to see how the sand changes color from dunes to rocks, it’s beautiful, it’s very beautiful, ”she said.
Upon arrival in Riyadh, Rutherford was greeted by an event hosted by the Saudi Aviation Club led by HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GACA) and the Riyadh Airports Company.
“I met Her Royal Highness yesterday, and it was amazing. He’s also a pilot and very interested in aviation, and he told me some of his stories of flying in Saudi Arabia and around the world, ”she said.
“He’s a lot more experienced than me. It was really great to be able to talk to another pilot, and he was very welcoming and very kind, ”she said.
On her arrival in Riyadh, she was also welcomed by the Ambassador of Belgium to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Her Excellency Mrs. Dominique Mineur.
“We were extremely proud to welcome young Zara Rutherford to Riyadh on her pioneering journey around the world,” the ambassador told Arab News.
She said Rutherford visited Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University to speak to female students.
“She had the opportunity to meet young Saudi students from PNU and to have an exchange with them about her incredible experience of flying around the world. She shared her passion for aviation, and we hope this will further stimulate the younger generation to develop their interest in STEM, ”she said.
During his flight from Riyadh to Tabuk, Rutherford maintained altitudes between 1,000 and 4,000 feet above the ground. She said there wasn’t much turbulence when she left after sunrise and kept a low height to take in the scenery below. Later that day, she had to increase her altitude to 4,000 due to the heat and turbulence to ensure the flight was smoother.
“I saw a lot of different things flying towards Tabuk; I saw camels. I’ve never really seen camels before so it was really exciting for me, ”she said.
Rutherford aims to inspire others to pursue their dreams, no matter how impossible or difficult it may seem.
“If you have a passion that doesn’t quite match you, say a woman who loves aviation, you stand out.
“At first as a girl I got disgusted with aviation because when you’re a girl you usually don’t want to stand out; you want to fit in with your friends, ”she said.
“At the end of the day, no matter what other people think, it’s important that you do what you want to do and what makes you happy. Don’t let others dictate what you want to do with your life, ”said Rutherford.
“With all this press I’ve had, I can encourage more girls to get into aviation. Growing up, there weren’t many other girls or women pilots, and I thought that “was a shame and it’s kinda nice to have people you can look up to. I hope to change that,” she said.
“Now I’m home in just six days, and it’s a really weird feeling because I haven’t been home for five months, so six days is pretty close,” he said. she declared.
Rutherford aims to beat two Guinness Books of World Records, for the youngest female solo pilot to tour the world and the first Belgian to do so alone.