As a child of Afghan refugees, it never occurred to Shaesta Waiz to dream of becoming a pilot.
Even if she had, Afghanistan didn't have any female pilots who could have served as a role model.
"I wasn't exposed to aviation until later in life," said Waiz, who was born in an Afghan refugee camp. "And when I was, I was completely hooked."
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At 28, Waiz has already become the first female certified pilot from Afghanistan. Her next challenge is to become the youngest female pilot to fly around the world.
"I want to inspire the next generation of female aviation professionals," she told CBC News: Montreal host Debra Arbec on Tuesday, International Women's Day.
90 days, 18 countries, 33 stops
She departs this June. Flying a Beechcraft Bonanza A36, the 90-day trip will take her to 18 different countries across five continents.
Along the way, Waiz will make 33 stops as part of a campaign to encourage women to follow careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), including aviation.
- You can follow Waiz on her trip through her website.
Of the 130,000 airline pilots worldwide, the International Society of Women Airline Pilots estimates that only 4,000 of them are women.
"I come from Afghanistan, where aviation is not encouraged to women, and I was able to make it," said Waiz. "If I can do it I know women around the world can do it as well."
Waiz was in Montreal in order to meet with officials from the International Civil Aviation Organization and to finalize the flight plans for her trip.