Afghan Female Pilot Flies Around the World to Promote Education

Shaesta Waiz (seen here in Montreal) flew around the world to promote Dreams Soar, stopping in 20 countries to meet and inspire children. Dreams Soar

As Women in Aviation International's Girls in Aviation Day was celebrated this weekend at various locations around the country to inspire young women to enter aviation careers, an extraordinary round-the-world flight with the same mission is coming to an end. Shaesta Waiz, who claims to be the first civilian pilot from Afghanistan, is scheduled to land this week in Daytona Beach, Florida, after flying a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza around the world to promote her organization, Dreams Soar.

Waiz founded Dreams Soar “to inspire women and girls to reach for the stars.” Her round-the-world solo flight began on May 13th and took her to 20 countries where she attended 18 events to inspire children to achieve their dreams and encourage them to pursue careers in STEM fields.

Waiz was born in a refugee camp in Afghanistan in 1987 and fled with her family to the United States to escape the Soviet-Afghan war. She is the first person in her family to achieve not only a bachelor’s degree but also a master’s degree, both at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

She found a love for aviation and, while enrolled at ERAU, she started a mentor program to help women get into aviation fields. Her program was credited with increasing enrollment for women at ERAU from 13 to 22 percent in less than three years. To expand her outreach to young women around the world, Waiz founded Dreams Soar in 2014.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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