First certified civilian female Afghan pilot will attempt to become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world to promote STEM and aviation education to encourage women to believe in themselves and allow their dreams to soar.
Scheduled for May 13, 2017, weather permitting, Shaesta Waiz will begin her solo flight around the world. That’s 30 stops over five continents, in 18 countries, in 90 days – with more than 25,000 miles flown. But it’s nothing compared to the journey this 29-year-old aviator – the first certified civilian female Afghan pilot – has already persevered.
Born in a refugee camp in Afghanistan in 1987, Waiz and her family fled to America to escape the brutal Soviet-Afghan war, which was amid ripping the two nations apart.One of six sisters in her family, Waiz was raised in Richmond, California, where she discovered an interest in aviation. That’s when everything changed for her.
“She’s an inspiration to all of us – she’s created a spark and a flame in our hearts to live a life giving of ourselves to ensure we positively impact the next generation, our future leaders, and our future communities,” says Lyndse Costabile, Chair for Dreams Soar, Inc.’s Board of Directors. “The global solo flight is only one chapter of the Dreams Soar program, yet one that will leave a footprint on the lives of 20,000 plus women and men globally.”
While a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Waiz founded the Women’s Ambassadors Program in 2011 to increase the female enrollment through a modeled mentor program. In less than three years, under her leadership, the program helped increase female enrollment from 13 to 22 percent. With a mission to encourage more women to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and aviation-related degrees, Dreams Soar was born late 2014 by Waiz, now a non-profit organization whose goal is to partner with strong female role models along her upcoming route around the world, and together, promote the importance of STEM and aviation education, globally.
“Every time I open the door of an aircraft, I ask myself, ‘How did a girl with my background become so lucky? The truth is, anyone can be me,” remarks Waiz.
Waiz’s global solo flight for STEM will begin and end at Daytona Beach International Airport, and will include stops in Canada, Europe, India, Egypt, Thailand, Middle East, Singapore, and Australia. U.S. stops will include Columbus, Ohio, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Hilo, Hawaii, El Cajon, California, Phoenix, Arizona, Wichita, Kansas, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Georgia, and Mobile, Alabama.
The longest leg of the global flight is Hilo, Hawaii to El Cajon, California, one that extends to 2,184 nautical miles over the Pacific Ocean. Global Partners to this program include ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and BendixKing by Honeywell.
Louis C. Seno, Jr. and his wife Christine have supported Waiz since the beginning, helping to acquire the A36 bonanza, supporting her flight training and other aspects of the program. Lou served Embry-Riddle for 25 plus years, and currently serves on the board for EAA and GAMA. “As a 40-year veteran in business and corporate aviation, my wife and I cannot imagine a better cause to invest that truly measures the reach and impact on our youth on a global scale, ” comments Mr. Seno. “Shaesta Waiz, through our support and others, will no doubt complete her mission in October 2016, propelling this industry forward.”
A 20 plus member Dream Team of talented collegiate students and young professionals serve the Dreams Soar program using expertise from their STEM and aviation curriculum to lead efforts related to donor/corporate relations, social media campaigns, video productions/multimedia, outreach events, weather briefings and global climate, homeland security and risk management, women in STEM strategies, to list a few. “We’ve taken action, stepped up to use our skilled minds to impact the next generation,” says Oriole Le, Women in STEM/Outreach team member for the Dream Team. “Helping plan a historic global solo flight and support a new nonprofit has proved to me, anything is possible.”
For a complete itinerary of planned stops, information on Waiz and the Dreams Soar team, visit Dreams Soar’s website: www.dreamssoar.org
Waiz is currently based in Daytona Beach, Florida.
About Dreams Soar, Inc.:
Dreams Soar, Inc., is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization founded by Shaesta Waiz, a dual-graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, whose mission is to inspire the next generation of STEM and aviation professionals, globally. The global solo flight is the first phase of Dreams Soar’s worldwide effort to empower the next generation to pursue degrees and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and aviation, specifically for young women and minorities. Supported by her Dream Team of collegiate students and young professionals, Waiz aims to be the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe, as well as the first Afghan women to fly solo around the world. Departing from Daytona Beach International Airport (KDAB), the global flight intends to raise additional dollars to award scholarships for young women and men worldwide in pursuit of STEM and aviation education. For more information about Dreams Soar, visit dreamssoar.org.