Jan 17, 2024 - News

Miami pilot flew around world in 97 days. Now he's inspiring next generation

Barrington Irving waves as he arrives home from a solo flight around the world on June 27, 2007. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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.

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.

The latest: The Barrington Irving Technical Training School graduated its first class of 15 local students last month.

  • 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:

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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