Barrington Irving Luncheon
Mar 26, 2007
from 01:00 PM to 03:00 PM
|Where||Academic Core Building - Faculty Dining|
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NEW YORK, NY, March 20--- Barrington Irving, age 23, is about to become the first African American and the youngest person ever to fly solo around the world. Irving will take off from Miami in a single-engine aircraft at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, March 23rd, stop in Cleveland, then land at Atlantic Aviation at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, NY. He will speak to students at the York College Aviation Institute on Monday, March 26th before flying to Canada and overseas. In his Lancair Columbia 400, the veritable Ferrari of small aircraft, Irving will traverse four continents over the next 5-6 weeks, clocking 130 hours of flight time. His “World Flight Adventure” will take him to 23 locales including the Azores, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Dubai, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, and Japan before returning him to the U.S. via Alaska.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in inner-city Miami, Irving’s purpose in making the flight is to inspire inner-city and minority youth, and other youth throughout the nation, to consider pursuing careers in aviation and aerospace. He named his plane “Inspiration,” he said, “…because that’s what I want my historic venture to be for young people. They can look at me and realize that if I can achieve my dream, they can too.”
Irving himself was inspired when, at age 15, he was working in his parents’ Christian bookstore and met a customer, Jamaican airline pilot Captain Gary Robinson, who would change his life. The next day, Robinson took him on a tour of the cockpit of a United Airlines Boeing 777 and Barrington was hooked. He began by washing planes and working odd jobs to pay for flying lessons, turned down college football scholarships and enrolled in a local community college to study aeronautics. He was awarded a joint Air Force/Florida Memorial University Flight Awareness Scholarship and transferred to the university, where he excelled in academics and flight training courses. By age 19, he had earned his Private Pilot and Flight Instructor licenses and his Commercial and Instrument Ratings.
At age 21, Irving founded Experience Aviation Inc. (EA), a nonprofit organization designed to provide flight simulator training and aviation career guidance to middle and high school students. The first EA Learning Center opened in Miami in November, 2006, with the support of the Miami Mayor, School Commissioners, and other local officials and businesses. Students who attend the center will be among the thousands worldwide who will track Irving’s trip on Microsoft flight simulator programs and will read his daily entries in a flight blog that will appear on his website, www.experienceaviation.org.
Barrington Irving is following in the tradition of his heroes, the Tuskegee Airmen, and his mentors Erik Lindbergh (grandson of Charles Lindbergh), Steve Fossett, and Dick Rutan, who support his efforts to inspire youth as he joins the ranks of record-setting aviators.
“I wish I had a chance to bring every child tracking the flight on my adventure, but I will be carrying all their hearts with me in the plane,” Irving said. “This is what fuels me—having youth believe in what I can do, so they can also begin to believe in themselves.”
Irving’s custom-made aircraft for the flight includes state-of-the-art data programming and extended range fuel tanks. To start, he raised $300,000 in donated components, including tires, cockpit systems, seats, and the engine, and Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Company in Oregon built him the world’s fastest single-engine piston aircraft in production today.