March 20, 2007

1st Blackman to Fly Around the World

My dad is a retired aeronautical engineer. During his career he had chance to work on space shuttle project. However, his passion is flying single engine planes out of Compton Airport in California. For summer vacations, our family would pile into a rented 4-seat Cessna and visit our cousins in Houston and Detroit. His love of flying was shared by my brother, Charles. Charles took flying lessons while attending college in Georgia. Charles had his pilot's license at an early age. Heck, my Mom even took flying lessons for a few years. She earned her pilot's license in 1975, although she didn't keep it up over the years.

Anyhow, I thought my dad would enjoy knowing that there is a 23-year-old aerospace student who built his plane from more than $300,000 in donated parts leaving this weekend in the hopes of becoming the youngest person and first black pilot to fly around the globe alone.

Barrington Irving plans to arrive back in Florida on April 30 in his single-engine Lancair Columbia 400. He had planned to fly last year, but a lack of funding delayed his $1 million project. He still needs about $20,000, but that didn't stop him from setting out.

"I want this completed before the year is over so kids can see that someone who started off with nothing set a goal and completed it," he said just before takeoff. "Even with the challenges, everything is starting to fall in place. It's just my time."

Irving was born in Jamaica and grew up in Miami. He said he saw little chance for success until he met a Jamaican-American pilot at his parents' Christian bookstore. The pilot, Gary Robinson, took Irving to see a Boeing 777. The 15-year-old was mesmerized. He turned down college football scholarships to become a pilot.

Irving is now studying at Florida Memorial University; he has private and commercial pilot licenses. He also founded Experience Aviation, a Miami-based organization that encourages minority youths to pursue aviation careers. He will make stops in Cleveland and Farmingdale, N.Y., before passing into Canada, then crossing the Atlantic, through Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

What do you have to say about this young man's quest? Before you submit your comment please take a moment to track Irving's global flight online. It is amazing how cyberspace can bring us together.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post. You have to admire/respect anyone who follows his/her dreams.

Matthew C. Keegan said...

That's cool! So young, but very adventurous. Risk takers are what shape the world.

I wish him every success.

notfearingchange said...

You have been listed on my blog as a person who makes me think - go see....

Michael and; Giovanni said...

Hello and congratulations on your exciting plan. If your route brings you via Australia I'd love to know when and where, So to be able to shake your hand.
Happy Landings

Michael :P

"Live your dream"

Keli said...

Kudos to this young man for following his dream. I wish him all the best in his endeavor.

Anonymous said...

I am feeling Mr Irvin, I will definately keep an eye out on his whereabouts! Gotta let my readers know also