On May 13, 2017, Shaesta Waiz began an incredible flying adventure as she set off on a solo flight around the world. Her primary goal was to inspire girls and young women to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and aviation-related education and careers. Shaesta completed her mission on October 4, 2017, becoming the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe solo in a single-engine aircraft. JSSI supported this important mission and provided worldwide aircraft-on-ground (AOG) support for Shaesta.
The 145-day Global Flight for STEM began and ended at Daytona Beach International Airport in Florida. Shaesta flew 24,816 nautical miles across 5 continents, visiting 22 countries and, most importantly, personally inspiring over 3,000 young girls and boys during 32 outreach events in 14 countries. The route included stops in Canada, Europe, India, Thailand, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Australia. U.S. stops included Columbus, Ohio; Honolulu, Hawaii; Hayward, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The longest leg of the global flight was a world-record setting 14.5-hour flight from Hawaii to California, extending 2,119 nautical miles over the Pacific Ocean.
"Flying around the world, while rewarding and empowering, could not happen without the support of industry partners who've stepped up with Dreams Soar, and answered the call to help solve the scarcity of talent, and diversity, in STEM fields worldwide," commented Shaesta on her stopover at JSSI's European Headquarters in Farnborough, UK. "JSSI —a strong investor and global maintenance partner to Dreams Soar—sets a solid example of the attention to this mission inspiring the next generation to pursue STEM and aviation education, globally."
Born in a refugee camp in Afghanistan in 1987, Shaesta and her family fled to America to escape the brutal Soviet–Afghan war. One of six sisters in her family, she was raised in Richmond, California, in an underprivileged school district. After being fearful of airplanes as a child, Shaesta discovered her true passion for aviation during her first flight in a commercial airplane at age 18. She then pursued her dream of becoming a commercial pilot, also obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the first in her family to do so. Shaesta founded the non-profit Dreams Soar, Inc., in 2014, to inspire the next generation of STEM and aviation professionals globally.
Lou Seno, JSSI Chairman Emeritus and Special Advisor, and his wife Christine have supported Shaesta since the beginning, helping to acquire the Beechcraft A36 Bonanza and supporting her flight training and other aspects of the program. Lou served Embry-Riddle for over 25 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 in that truly measures the reach and impact on our youth on a global scale,” commented Lou.
For more information on Shaesta and Dreams Soar, visit dreamssoar.org.