Attempting to land in the record books as the youngest pilot – and the first person of African descent – to complete a solo circumnavigation of the globe, Barrington Irving, 23, took off from his hometown of Miami March 23 in a Columbia 400 he calls “Inspiration.”
Between now and April 30, he will fly 21,509 nautical miles, visiting Canada, Spain, Italy, Greece, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan before making his way back to the United States.
“I named the plane ‘Inspiration’ because that’s what I want my historic venture to be for young people who are looking for a purpose in life beyond the streets of the inner city,” says Irving. “More than setting world records, my mission is to reach those youth. I want them to see that neither a lack of money nor their young age can keep them from attempting what may at first seem impossible.”
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Irving was raised in Miami’s inner-city, where he says he and his friends shared a sense of hopelessness about their futures. A chance encounter with Gary Robinson, a Jamaican pilot for United Airlines, when he was just 15, helped Irving look to the skies for his own inspiration. With Robinson as a mentor, Irving purchased flight simulator software and began raising money for flying lessons by washing planes. He eventually received a joint Air Force/Florida Memorial University Flight Awareness Scholarship to cover tuition and flying lessons.
In 2005, Irving founded Experience Aviation, Inc., a non-profit organization aimed at increasing youth and minority interest in aviation. He hopes to use his solo flight around the world to support this mission and inspire others.
You can follow Irving’s flight at ExperienceAviation.org