Many industrialized nations are facing a shortage of qualified candidates to fill science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) roles in the coming decade. The same holds true for aviation too. One woman hopes to help change that.
Shaesta Waiz, the first Afghan female to become a certified general aviation pilot, has set her sights on inspiring young women around the globe to actively pursue challenging yet rewarding STEM-related careers, including those in the aviation industry. And what better way to inspire these women than to lead by example?
Shaesta, with the help of numerous partners worldwide, will embark on a special mission called Dreams Soar – a solo, around-the-world flight beginning on Saturday, May 13, 2017. She will take off from Sheltair Aviation at Daytona Beach International Airport (KDAB). She plans to make 30 stops in 18 countries across five continents – for a total of 25.800 nautical miles. This flight will be the second time a female has circumnavigated the globe; plus, she will be the youngest female pilot to attempt it.
The plan is to make three stops in North America; cross the Atlantic to Europe for four stops; then four stops in the Middle East; five stops in Asia; on to Australia for two more; cross the Pacific and stop seven more times. Then, it will be back to North America for a ten-leg crossing of the continental U.S. She will end up back in Daytona Beach, where the mission started.
The planned route Shaesta will take:
|KDAB Daytona Beach, Florida||KCMH Columbus, Ohio||655 nm|
|KCMH Columbus, Ohio||CYUL Montréal, Canada||521 nm|
|CYUL Montréal, Canada||CYYT St. Johns, Canada||876 nm|
|CYYT St. Johns, Canada||LPAZ Santa Maria, Portugal||1,374 nm|
|LPAZ Santa Maria, Portugal||LECU Madrid, Spain||1,023 nm|
|LECU Madrid, Spain||EGKB Biggin Hill, UK||673 nm|
|EGKB Biggin Hill, UK||LIRU Rome-Urbe, Italy||850 nm|
|LIRU Rome-Urbe, Italy||HECA Cairo, Egypt||1,157 nm|
|HECA Cairo, Egypt||OTBD Doha, Qatar||1,111 nm|
|OTBD Doha, Qatar||OMDB Dubai, UAE||207 nm|
|OMDB Dubai, UAE||VABB Mumbai, India||1,041 nm|
|VABB Mumbai, India||VECC Kolkata (Calcutta), India||901 nm|
|VECC Kolkata (Calcutta), India||VTBD Bangkok, Thailand||868 nm|
|VTBD Bangkok, Thailand||WSSL Singapore Seletar, Singapore||772 nm|
|WSSL Singapore Seletar, Singapore||WADD Bali, Indonesia||910 nm|
|WADD Bali, Indonesia||YPDN Darwin, Australia||953 nm|
|YPDN Darwin, Australia||YBCS Cairns, Australia||906 nm|
|YBCS Cairns, Australia||NWWW Nouméa, New Caledonia||1,199 nm|
|NWWW Nouméa, New Caledonia||NWWM Magenta, New Caledonia||21 nm|
|NWWW Magenta, New Caledonia||NFFN Nadi, Fiji||676 nm|
|NFFN Nadi, Fiji||NSTU Pago Pago, American Samoa||715 nm|
|NSTU Pago Pago, American Samoa||PLCH Christmas Island, Kiribati||1,258 nm|
|PLCH Christmas Island, Kiribati||PHTO Hilo, Hawaii||1,068 nm|
|PHTO Hilo, Hawaii||PHNL Honolulu, Hawaii||188 nm|
|PHNL Honolulu, Hawaii||KOAK Oakland, California||2,093 nm|
|KOAK Oakland, California||KSEE El Cajon, California||391 nm|
|KSEE El Cajon, California||KVGT Las Vegas, Nevada||225 nm|
|KVGT Las Vegas, Nevada||KDVT Phoenix, Arizona||215 nm|
|KDVT Phoenix, Arizona||KICT Wichita, Kansas||754 nm|
|KICT Wichita, Kansas||KGRR Grand Rapids, Michigan||630 nm|
|KGRR Grand Rapids, Michigan||KDCA Washington, D.C.||460 nm|
|KDCA Washington, D.C.||KPDK Atlanta, Georgia (Peachtree)||461 nm|
|KPDK Atlanta, Georgia (Peachtree)||KBFM Mobile, Alabama||273 nm|
|KBFM Mobile, Alabama||KDAB Daytona Beach, Florida||375 nm|
FlightAware will provide live tracking on the flight once it gets underway from Daytona Beach. To follow the flight, go to the Dreams Soar website.
Shaesta was born in Afghanistan and emigrated to the U.S. as a young girl with her parents and five sisters. They settled in Richmond, California in 1987. She discovered a fascination with aviation, which motivated her to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where she completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees – making her the first woman in her family to ever do so. While in college, she started the Women’s Ambassador Program designed to mentor young women who desire aviation and engineering careers.
To learn more about Shaesta’s unique and inspiring story, read her own words. For updates on this story, visit UAS Blog frequently over the coming months.