Embry-Riddle student to become youngest woman to fly solo around the world
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will be a lead partner in powering a historic Dreams Soar’s Global Solo Flight for STEM. The 33-city, 19-country, five-continent worldwide flight is to be piloted by 28-year-old Embry-Riddle alumna and graduate student Shaesta Waiz as announced at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) annual convention in Las Vegas.
Waiz, the first civilian female certified pilot from Afghanistan, will be the youngest female ever to attempt a worldwide solo journey. Flying a Beechcraft Bonanza A36 provided by High Performance Aircraft, Waiz is scheduled to kick off the estimated 90-day flight on June 2, 2016, in Daytona Beach, Fla. She will coordinate with organizations to host outreach events at stops along the 27,318-mile route to encourage women to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
“As a pilot, I have this passion for aviation that I want to share. But it’s more than that. I want to show women that they can succeed in anything – including flying around the world,” said Waiz, who is a two-time graduate of Embry-Riddle (bachelor of science in Aeronautics and master’s in Aeronautical Science with specialization in management and operations) and is currently completing a master’s degree in Aviation Business Administration. “To have my university and the aviation industry support me and make this come true speaks volumes not only to their belief in me and this ground-breaking journey, but every young person with a dream.”
Embry-Riddle’s partnership with Dreams Soar continues its more than 10-year commitment to diversifying and solidifying the future workforce of aviation and aerospace. In 2004, the university teamed with then-student Jamail Larkins to found DreamLaunch, a national tour designed to educate and motivate students to pursue careers in aviation.
Larkins, now CEO of Ascension Aviation and the first official Federal Aviation Association (FAA) Ambassador for Aviation Education, has been the face of DreamLaunch since its inception. In just over 10 years, more than three million middle school and high school students have participated in DreamLaunch either in person through school visits at nearly 20 cities a year or via online outreach.
“Jamail’s successful leadership with DreamLaunch and Shaesta’s vision with Dreams Soar exemplify Embry-Riddle’s commitment to not only leading the future of aviation, but expanding and shaping it,” said Interim President Dr. John R. Watret. “It is engrained in them to educate and inspire the next generation, and that’s why we are proud to support them and the innovative, forward-thinking programs they represent.”
In addition to Embry-Riddle, official partners of the flight include: The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, Bose Corporation, American Bonanza Society, Avfuel, FABA (Florida Aviation Business Association), MSK Concepts, Beeline, ICAO, UNDP (United Nations Development Programs) and various individuals.