The following article was originally published in InterPilot Issue 3 2017
By Christopher Schewe, IFLAPA Managing Director
In a time where air travel has become a natural way to discover the globe, at first sight nothing seems so special about a 29-year-old woman who sets out to go on a round-theworld trip.
This information becomes exceptional when the details of the trip and the traveller are revealed. The young woman is an aviator who will take her seat in the cockpit of a 2001 Beechcraft Bonanza A36 and become the youngest woman in history, and only the second woman ever, to fly solo around the world!
We met Captain Shaesta Waiz in Montreal, her second of about 30 planned stops on 5 continents and 18 countries over 90 days, where supporters and admirers from ICAO, ACI, and IFALPA were invited to Stratos Aviation to get to know this exceptional and inspiring young captain and to wish her safe travels and success for her mission.
Born in a refugee camp, Shaesta and her family travelled from Afghanistan to the United States in 1987 to escape the Soviet-Afghan war. She grew up with her parents and five sisters in Richmond, California.
She lived in an underserved school district where substitute teachers, sharing textbooks with classmates, and watching friends drop out of high school was the norm.
After a long journey pursuing an education in a non-traditional field, she became the first female certified civilian pilot from Afghanistan and the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree — both from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
She started Dreams Soar, a project to share her story with women around the world, to let them know it is possible to achieve your dreams, regardless of the challenges and traditional viewpoints you may face.
The Dreams Soar mission is to partner with strong female role models at every stop along the route and together, share and promote the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education for women and girls.
Once completed, Shaesta will have flown over 25,000 miles, also demonstrating that becoming a pilot is no question of gender. From the global pilot community: Fly safe, Shaesta, and keep following your dreams!
To learn more about Captain Shaesta Waiz and her project, please visit dreamssoar.org
CHRISTOPH SCHEWE spent over 25 years in the field of air transport in Germany; first in the Luftwaffe, then as Technical Director of Vereinigung Cockpit/German ALPA, before assuming the position of Managing Director of IFALPA in Montreal, Canada, in 2013.