Afghan pilot Shaesta Waiz takes flight for women

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 for her. Now she plans to become the youngest female pilot to fly around the world.

Afghanistan's 1st female pilot will embark on a solo trip around the world to encourage more female aviators

Afghan Shaesta Waiz will attempt to become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world. (Shaesta Waiz)

As a child of Afghan refugees, it never occurred to ShaestaWaiz 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."

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.

Afghanistan's first woman pilot, Shaesta Waiz, talks to CBC Montreal about altering course after discovering her passion for flight. 0:58

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. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.