KLM pilot helps Anglo-Belgian teen make a safe landing in Seoul

As her attempt to become the youngest woman ever to fly around the world continues, 19-year-old Zara Rutherford how now touched down safely in the South Korean capital Seoul. Her safe landing was aided by the intervention of a pilot from the Dutch airline KLM, who helped Zara make contact with South Korean air traffic control while she was flying over the Sea of Japan. Her own radio was unable to make contact with Seoul. The KLM pilot flew close to Zara’s plane, and she was able to communicate through him with air traffic controllers in South Korea. 

Zara Rutherford landed in Seoul on Saturday from Russia the first Asia stop on her attempt to become the youngest woman to fly around the world solo.

The 19-year-old Anglo-Belgian departed from Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport in West Flanders in August for a 51,000-km trip spanning five continents and 52 countries.

Speaking on Saturday Zara Rutherford told journalists "It has been challenging,"

"I was stuck in Alaska because of visa and weather issues for a month and I was stuck in Russia for a month because of visa and weather issues," she said. "I was hoping to complete it by Christmas but I guess that’s not happening anymore, but it’s an adventure."

Rutherford, who is to remain at in hotel before her planned departure for Taiwan on Monday, said she expects to complete her journey by mid-January.

COVID-related travel restrictions have meant that  Rutherford has sometimes not been allowed to see local places in some countries.

"I’m seeing these places from the air and that is the most incredible thing," she said. "Although I’m not always allowed to go and visit, walk around and check out museums and restaurants, I can always see them from the air and it’s pretty incredible.”

Aside from entering the record book, the teenager has expressed hope that her voyage will encourage girls and women to study and work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and spark an interest among girls in aviation.

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