Miami pilot flew around world in 97 days. Now he's inspiring next generation
As a Miami high school student, Barrington Irving had dreams of playing professional football. But a chance encounter with a Jamaican airline pilot changed the trajectory of his life.
- At 23 years old, the Jamaican native became the youngest pilot and first Black aviator to fly solo around the world.
Why it matters: Irving is now working with the next generation of pilots and aviation workers looking to break into an industry struggling with representation.
- Irving's 2007 flight inspired him to create education programs for kids and, later, workforce training for adults.
Flashback: Irving, then a student at Florida Memorial University, flew 97 days around the world in a single-engine aircraft made of donated parts that he assembled.
- Aboard the "Inspiration," he flew 145 hours and made 27 stops in 13 countries to refuel.
- With no weather radar or de-icing, Irving flew through grueling storms and had a few close calls. (He recalls landing in Alaska with 12 minutes of fuel left.)
- "There is definitely some trauma from that trip, but a lot of good has come from it," he tells Axios.
- Irving says the program, which prepares students for jobs servicing airplanes, is expanding to around 50 local participants this year.
Some of his other projects include:
- Flying Classroom: Irving contracts with school districts to film his global expeditions and incorporate them into STEM courses.
- He's currently mentoring a young Florida pilot named Leona Serao, who is looking to become the first Black woman and African woman to fly around the world.
What they're saying: Irving credits his mentor, Capt. Gary Robinson, and his social studies teacher at Miami Northwestern Senior High, Ms. Batiste, for inspiring him to pursue his passion.
- He wants to continue giving back to his community by inspiring the youth and those struggling to find a career path.
- "I just love helping people," he says. "I don't ask for anything in return."
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