May 17, 2017

Shaesta Waiz’s dream to fly solo around the world promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education is becoming a reality as she began her journey on May 13 from Dayton Beach International Airport (DAB) on a trip that will take her to 30 stops in 18 countries over approximately 90 days.

Known as Dreams Soar – the project involves not only Waiz but a team of student leaders, a board of directors, funding supporters and in-kind partners who are making the flight and campaign a reality.

Her first stop, after an initial weather diversion to Jacksonville, was John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH) where Waiz paid homage to her inspiration Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock, the first woman to fly solo around the world in 1964. From there, she flew to Montreal and will continue from Canada for the Atlantic crossing into Europe, where her first stop will be in Portugal.

Just prior to takeoff from DAB, an emotional Waiz recounted for the audience when she met Mock about three years ago and told her she wanted to fly around the world – a large dream for someone who was born in an Afghan refugee camp, and came to America in 1987 with her family to escape the Soviet-Afghan war.

But Waiz discovered her love of aviation, and is the first female certified pilot from Afghanistan. A graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees – Waiz is taking the journey to let other young women know they, too, have choices.

“It’s an opportunity for young women to come together and share their successes,” Waiz told global partner NBAA shortly after announcing Dreams Soar. “I want this to shed hope and give others some inspiration.”

“At Embry-Riddle, I also started the Women’s Ambassador Program – an initiative that seeks to mentor and support young women pursuing an education in aviation and engineering – then sought to advance my efforts to a global scale,” she added. “I started Dreams Soar to share my story with women around the world, to let them know it is possible to achieve your dreams, regardless of the challenges and traditions you may face.”

“NBAA wishes Shaesta and the whole Dream Team a safe and successful journey,” said Peter Korns, NBAA manager of operations. “Young people around the world will witness Shaesta’s strength and courage, and through her outreach it’s our dream that hearts and minds will be filled with inspiration.

Waiz took part in NBAA’s 2016 convention, as a speaker at Careers in Business Aviation Day, with tentative plans to return to this year’s event in October in Las Vegas, NV.

The No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, jointly sponsored by NBAA and GAMA, promotes the value of business aviation in supporting high-skill career paths, like those in STEM-related professions Waiz will highlight during her worldwide journey.

Learn more about Dreams Soar and follow Waiz’s journey around the world.