Aug. 8, 2018
Shaesta Waiz, the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe solo in a single-engine aircraft, will speak at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on Sept. 26 as part of the GE Aviation Lecture Series. Waiz will speak about global outreach to youth in underprivileged environments and in regions unsupportive of women – a program known as Dreams Soar.
Specifically, she will share stories of her around-the-world flight in a Beechcraft Bonanza A36 single-engine aircraft, a journey that spanned 145 days, 22 countries and more than 24,000 nautical miles, during which she personally inspired over 3,000 girls and boys to consider STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields and aviation careers.
“It is my honor and pleasure to return to the Smithsonian and to participate in the GE Aviation Lecture Series,” Waiz said. “Dreams Soar made a lasting impact to the next generation of STEM and aviation professions through the global flight. I am excited to share my journey and its impact with this audience.”
Born in an Afghan refugee camp, Waiz immigrated to the United States with her family when she was a young child. One of six sisters, Waiz and her family grew up in Richmond, CA, where they attended school in an underprivileged district with limited resources.
Waiz discovered her passion for aviation at the age of 18 and went on to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and was the first in her family to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees. While at Embry-Riddle, she founded the Women’s Ambassador Program, an initiative that seeks to mentor and support young women pursuing an education in aviation and engineering.
Waiz founded the non-profit organization Dreams Soar, Inc. in 2014, as an initiative to share her story with young girls and women around the world, to let them know it is possible to achieve their dreams, regardless of the challenges and traditions they may face.
Since returning from her global flight in October 2017, Waiz continues travelling the world to spread her message of hope. She is the first certified civilian female pilot from Afghanistan, and was awarded the “Ambassador of Peace” designation by the Afghan government. Waiz is the recipient of the National Aeronautic Association’s 2017 Katherine and Marjorie Stinson Trophy, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s 2018 Trophy for Current Achievement, and the Royal Institute of Navigation’s 2018 Certificate of Achievement.