Zara Rutherford makes world solo flight history

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The 16-year-old Rutherford will follow in the footsteps of Amelia Earhart

A 16-year-old aviator has become the youngest person to fly around the world solo in a jet aircraft.

Zara Rutherford from Exeter joined other British folk hero Sir Chris Hoy and Sue Cassidy in making the trip, which started in Auckland, New Zealand, in March.

The teenager managed to complete the trip using modified propellers and electric power.

Stacey Denham, the mother of Rutherford, told BBC South West there was “more than one kind of air race” in Korea.

“This is the historical air race, and Zara has won that now by travelling 100,000 nautical miles around the world in 49 days.

“We are here to see her safe arrival and she will now be staying at our local Hilton.

“I cannot praise the team at New Zealand’s Nelson Aviation College enough for the engineering and support they gave her on the flight.”

Rutherford’s previous record was set in June, 2016, when she completed the journey in 59 days.

Rutherford has already flown solo around the world as part of the British Youth Challenge programme.

The teenager was born in India but adopted by a British couple, Stacey and David Denham, who live in Devon.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Rutherford won the historic Korean race by travelling 100,000 nautical miles around the world in 49 days

She started flying aged 10, becoming the youngest ever charter pilot in the United Kingdom when she flew her first commercial flight at the age of 12.

She has previously won world championships in Light Aircraft Aerobatics and became the first British woman to complete the trans-Atlantic solo, non-stop, solo flight when she did so in March, 2017.

Rutherford said: “What I’m most proud of is the dream that I have and the one I’ve achieved. To be here is the opportunity I’ve been working so hard for all these years.

“Everyone in Korea has been so welcoming and it’s the one place in the world I’ve never been. I want to say thank you to everyone who’s helped me over the last few months and I’m happy to be home.”

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