July 1, 2007

Blackman Flies Around the World

Methinks we need to take a moment to appreciate historical actions when they take place. I encourage villagers to take that moment right now. You may recall that we told you about a 23-year old Black pilot who audaciously took off in April 2007 on a venture to become the youngest pilot --- and first Black --- to fly solo around the world. We updated the story about midway through the trip. Others provided video documentation of the young man when he was in Rome and Madrid.

After two years of organizing, three months of flying and four continents visited ... 95 days and 25,600 miles ... Barrington Irving's high-flying dream of circling the world came to a joyous conclusion on June 27, 2007 when he landed his single-engine Columbia Lancair he named "Inspiration" at Opa-locka Executive Airport and earned his niche in aviation history.

Irving has wanted to fly around the world since he was a teenager, hoping his intercontinental adventure would motivate young people to aspire to big challenges. Along the way, he has inspired people across the world who followed his progress on the web. Thousands attended his landing, where he was greeted by local politicians and a steel-drum band.

The journey was longer and more taxing than Irving expected. The flight route was scheduled to take 37 days. It took nearly three times that, as he consistently ran into trouble: snowstorms, sandstorms, rainstorms and monsoons.

Irving, who got his first pilot's license at 19, said he stressed safety over speed.

The extended stay gave him time to soak in local culture, he said. He got a haircut in Rome and developed a taste for shish kabobs in Athens. He admired how family-focused homes were throughout Asia and marveled at the architectural creativity in Dubai. ''It's amazing,'' Irving said. ``They have a ski resort in the middle of the desert!''

Despite those enlightening experiences, Irving said he experience loneliness and frustration. His body had a difficult time adjusting to the time changes, and he has lost about 15 pounds. And then there were hours alone aboard Inspiration, where he navigated through turbulent skies and tried to cope with increasing pressure to rush the journey and return home. The average distance between stops was 870 miles, he said.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, who represents the district where Irving lives and helped him raise the $1.2 million for his quest, said she has continued to be impressed with him. She's trying to get him booked on Oprah.

Irving plans on completing his graduate studies at Florida Memorial University and working on Experience Aviation, a Saturday morning teaching program he started to instruct neighborhood young people about flying.

Irving said he's not sure if wants to circumnavigate the world again. ''I'm just grateful that God has taken me this far,'' he said. ``It's been mentally and physically taxing so far, and I've had a greater impact on youth -- and older people too -- than I had ever even imagined.''

Villagers, sometimes we simply need to recognize history when it is being created in front of our own eyes!


Keli said...

Historical indeed! So happy to see you shine the spotlight on our positive black men...I believe they are the norm! And this young man should be getting recognitition from a variety of media sources...not just Oprah. He is a role mode!

Vanessa said...

Great post, Villager. I live in Miami and had the pleasure of meeting Barrington about a year before his journey. He is such a kind and gentle spirit; I am still in awe of perserverance and accomplishments. Peace.

Paula D. said...

This is incredible!!! Thanks for posting. Yes, this is definitely black history :-)

Villager said...

Keli - First and foremost ... I love your avatar! Second, I am glad you have shared your voice here in our village. We try to focus on the uplifting stories in our community. I invite you to relax at our fire under the baobob tree and share ourstory (not his-story) with over villager elders in the coming days and weeks.

Vanessa - I've seen some interviews with him and he seems like a level-headed brother with a remarkable vision and spirit. It was great to see him set out on a goal and accomplish it. There are few "firsts" for Blacks to accomplish. This young brother found one and did us all proud!

Paula - It is actually OURstory, as opposed to his-story! Thanx for sharing your voice with us today. Come back again sometime!

peace, Villager

Anonymous said...

Take a look at DayInBlackHistory.com (http://www.dayinblackhistory.com) for other stories like this. Actually Wayne, you may want to contribute your story on this great pilot.