Sibling around-the-world aviators set another youth record


LONDON: Siblings and solo around-the-world aviators Mack and Zara Rutherford set more records on Tuesday as they collected a trophy whose previous winners include Lewis Hamilton and Richard Branson.

The British-Belgian duo are the youngest winners of the Royal Automobile Club’s Segrave Trophy, first awarded in 1930 and featuring a roll call of aviation pioneers and motorsport greats.

Mack, who was the world’s youngest qualified pilot at 15, was only 16 when he set off from the Bulgarian capital Sofia last year to become, at 17, the youngest person to fly unaccompanied around the world.

Zara had already become at 19 the youngest female pilot to complete the 32,000 mile journey across 51 countries in a Shark microlight aircraft that can run on regular fuel from any gas station.

Her trip took five months due to bad weather causing delays in Russia and Alaska.

Only four women have previously won the Segrave trophy – awarded to British adventurers who show outstanding skill, courage and initiative in travel on land, sea or air – and none as young as Zara.

“A massive high for me was being able to fly straight over Central Park at a 1,000 feet in New York, that was really cool,” Zara, who is studying electrical engineering at Stanford University, told Reuters television.

She flew also over an active volcano in Iceland, with the lava spewing out, through tropical thunderstorms near Singapore and the severe cold of Siberia.

Mack, who beat the record set by 18-year-old Briton Travis Ludlow in 2021, had to land on an uninhabited island after crossing the Pacific Ocean on a trip whose itinerary had to be changed due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Previous winners of the Segrave Trophy include Formula One racing drivers Stirling Moss, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill as well as Hamilton.

1950s and 60s world land and water speed record holder Donald Campbell and 1930s aviation pioneer Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia, are also on the list.

Mack passed his driving test only a week and a half ago.

“That must be a record, that you get your drivers’ licence and a week later get the Segrave Trophy,” said Zara, who starts a placement with the Renault-owned Alpine Formula One team next week and hopes one day to become an astronaut.

“It feels very surreal.” Reuters.

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