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Shaesta Waiz, the courageous 30-year-old pilot of the 2017 Dreams Soar global flight for STEM, touched down in Daytona Beach, Fla. at 6:43 p.m. ET on Oct. 4, 2017, in her now well-travelled Beechcraft Bonanza A36 aircraft.
Since May, the Dreams Soar campaign has seen Waiz flying to over 20 countries to inspire the next generation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and aviation professionals.
With her incredible journey now completed, she becomes the youngest woman in history to complete a solo round-the-world flight in a single-engine aircraft.
“It has been an amazing adventure, and I am very happy to conclude the Dreams Soar around-the-world flight in honour of promoting STEM education to the next generation,” Waiz commented. “This flight was truly a team effort, and it is a bittersweet feeling to see it come to an end.”
ICAO has supported the Dreams Soar campaign as part of its Next Generation of Aviation Professionals (NGAP) program, which is focused on attracting the best and brightest to fill the hundreds of thousands of challenging and rewarding air transport careers. These careers will be available soon due to the growth and attrition impacts now being felt sector-wide across the aviation network.
Greater STEM educational capacity and access globally is a critical prerequisite to developing this 21st century aviation workforce. Dreams Soar provided a unique opportunity to raise awareness on these issues globally. It also supported other important UN sustainable development goals, such as gender equality and ensuring access to inclusive and quality education for world youth.
“ICAO has been honoured to be a main Dreams Soar supporter throughout Shaesta’s campaign, and we have been very grateful for this unique opportunity to help her inspire so many young, enthusiastic women and girls,” commented ICAO’s current and first female secretary general, Dr. Fang Liu. “Aviation needs hundreds of thousands of pilots and other skilled professionals in the years ahead, and Dreams Soar has provided a huge boost to ICAO’s efforts to bring this important message to young people all over the world.”
Waiz’s touchdown in Daytona Beach may have marked the formal winding down of her round-the-world flight, but it certainly won’t be the end of the Dreams Soar mission. Plans are already well underway for many more projects to inspire young girls around the world; Waiz will be a special guest speaker at ICAO’s inaugural NGAP Global Summit to be held at ICAO HQ in Montréal this November.
“Although we are closing one chapter of our STEM education efforts, we are also beginning a new one,” Waiz said. “The broader mission of young girls everywhere having access to quality STEM education will take much longer than just one summer, but I’m encouraged by the support we have received from ICAO and our industry partners. [I am] very confident that our mission will continue to bring us closer to our goal of equal and quality access to STEM schooling and resources for all,” Waiz added.