On the 18th of August 2021, Zara Rutherford left on her adventure to become the youngest woman to circumnavigate the world solo in a microlight airplane. Her mission was accomplished on the 20th of January, 2022. Using this feat as a platform to gain the interest of the global media, she leveraged the well-deserved attention to highlight the gender gap in Aviation as well as in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in order to encourage girls and young women to pursue their dreams. ELGi proudly sponsored her journey because we felt the need to bring more visibility to the lack of women in these important disciplines.
Recently, Zara visited our European headquarters in Waterloo, Belgium, and had a roundtable discussion with Chris Ringlstetter, President, ELGi Europe. In her conversation, she shared some insights on her journey, her experience on her solo travel, the people she met, and the next big thing she hopes to do.It was a friendly one-to-one conversation where we got to know Zara better, and she got to know what makes ELGi unique and different. Zara recounted her journey, the conflicting reactions she encountered, and how strangers, both men, and women, encouraged and believed in her. Zara hopes that sharing her story will bring the gender gap in the domains of aviation and STEM to light.
Women are notably underrepresented in the aviation and manufacturing sector, and at ELGi, we sincerely believe that diversity gives new perspectives, fosters innovation, raises overall work standards, and improves outcomes. We therefore have faith that Zara’s extraordinary accomplishment has made a difference in influencing this shift by encouraging women to pursue their real careers aspirations vs. following social norms which is unfortunately so often the case.
During her attempt to set a world record, Zara's route was full of unique challenges. She was, for example, plagued by setbacks, including month-long delays in Alaska and Russia due to visa and weather issues, lack of visibility in California due to forest fires, lightening over Singapore and more - all pushing her schedule back by more than eight weeks.
"I would say the most challenging part was flying over Siberia -- it was freezing. It was minus 35 degrees Celsius on the ground. If the engine were to have stalled, I would have been hours away from rescue, and I don't know how long I could have survived," Zara said during a press conference.
But despite all the obstacles, Zara succeeded in her courageous attempt to cross the globe, and while she may have been alone in the cockpit of her plane, our thoughts and prayers were with every take-off and landing she made and every km she flew. We are all so very proud of Zara and feel honored to have played a small part in the success of her remarkable journey.
ELGi is a pioneer in cutting-edge compressed air technology across over 120 countries, offering a complete range of compressed air solutions from oil-lubricated and oil-free rotary screw compressors, oil-lubricated and oil-free reciprocating compressors, and centrifugal compressors to dryers, filters, and downstream accessories. With state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities and a product portfolio of over 400 compressed air systems, ELGi redefines reliability, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness across more than 2 million installations worldwide.
Watch the video of Zara Rutherford to experience her record-breaking endeavor and relive her journey through her words.