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Taking Off From Columbus, A Flight Around The World To Inspire STEM Education

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Dreams Soar
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Shaesta Waiz landed in Columbus on Saturday as the first stop on her around-the-world flight.

On Monday morning, an aviator will take off from Columbus to continue a 90-day around-the-world trip, inspired by a historic Columbus flight more than 50 years ago.

The pilot is Sheasta Waiz, founder of Dreams Soar, a non-profit that seeks to empower students, particularly women and minorities, to participate in science, tech, engineering, math and aviation.

“These are all the fields that I was just terribly afraid of as a kid," Waiz says. "It wasn’t until I found aviation that I started to understand STEM. And I realized it’s really not that scary, especially if you find your way in with something you’re passionate about.”

As part of her mission, she’ll be leading STEM workshops at each of the 30 stops on her route. Her flight began in Daytona Beach, Florida, and made its first stop in Columbus on Saturday, May 13.

Waiz - the first certified civilian female pilot from Afghanistan - says she chose to begin the trip in Columbus as a tribute to Jerrie Mock, the first woman to fly solo around the world. Mock, a Newark, Ohio native, also began her trip in Columbus, in the spring of 1964.

“Her aircraft was the ‘The Spirit of Columbus, and I read her book too, and for me [Columbus] was always someplace that I always wanted to go," Waiz says.

Waiz says while she, like Mock, will fly a single engine plane, there are some 21st century upgrades that she’s grateful for.

“Her aircraft… it’s still a single engine airplane,” Waiz says. “But the amount of horsepower I have compared to hers, and the amount of equipment I have on board. Mind you... she didn’t have GPS back in 1964.”

By the time she completes her circumnavigation, Waiz will have traveled to 18 countries on five continents, a journey of more than 25,000 miles.