BRUSSELS, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Pilot Zara Rutherford, 19, took off on Wednesday at the start of a three-month 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.
"Growing up, I loved aviation and STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but I didn't see many other women or girls doing that. I just always thought that was quite sad or discouraging," Rutherford told Reuters. "I'm hoping that I can encourage girls to go into this field."