"Welcome Back" Sign Being Hung For Wednesday's Return To
With just two stops
before completing the journey that would make him the youngest
person and the first black pilot to fly solo around the Earth,
Barrington Irving had a message for young people.
"I think this shows it doesn't matter where you come from, what
you have or what you don't have," Irving said after climbing out of
his single-engine Columbia 400, named Inspiration, reported the
Irving equipped his plane with more than $300,000 in
donated parts. As ANN reported, he took off from
Florida on March 23 in his bid to become the youngest person and
first of African descent to fly solo around the globe.
He had planned to fly last year, but a lack of funding delayed
his $1 million project. He's since received support from a variety
of corporate and other sponsors.
After a final stop in Alabama, Irving will return to Opa-locka
Executive Airport outside Miami on Wednesday to complete his
Irving's plane is dotted with stickers of small flags of
several of the countries he visited, including Spain, Italy, Greece
and Japan. His 21,000-mile trip included stops in Cleveland and New
York before passing into Canada, then crossing the Atlantic,
through Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
He said the most challenging part of the trip was weather, which
delayed some legs, and keeping his mind occupied during the long
Landing small planes in some foreign countries, he said, can be
a challenge but he managed with the help of a savvy ground
"There were some very tough times due to weather," Irving said.
"There were times I was very frustrated."
The trip, planned for five weeks, has been primarily delayed by
weather; Irving said his group is still raising money to pay for
costs incurred by the extended trip.
In Houston, Universal Weather and Aviation mapped Irving's trip,
while Chevron Global Aviation donated fuel for some of the flight
and all the training.
Keith Foreman, master trip support specialist with Universal
Weather, said the flight took longer than expected because the
aircraft is sensitive to weather and has no de-icing equipment.
Foreman helped Irving with visas in foreign countries, landing
permits, fuel, ground transportation and hotels.
Irving called Foreman his "guardian angel" for the trip.
The Florida Memorial
University (FMU) student was born in Jamaica and grew up in Miami.
He became interested in aviation at age 15 when then-United
Airlines pilot Capt. Gary Robinson approached Irving at his
parents' bookstore in Miami and asked if he had ever thought about
being a pilot.
"You know, I just looked at him crazy and I was a bit shocked
because he was in this airline uniform," Irving said. "I was
shocked that he approached me and asked me if I wanted to become a
pilot. I basically told him 'I don't think I'm smart enough to do
Irving later visited Robinson at the airport, and he has been
thrilled by aviation ever since. The pilot has since become
That was all it took for Irving to turn his sights towards
becoming a professional pilot, turning down college football
scholarships along the way.
Irving has both his private and commercial pilot licenses, and
between his studies at FMU, Florida, he founded Experience
Aviation, a Miami-based organization that encourages minority
youths to pursue aviation careers in 2005.
Several others have made solo flights, but none likely mirrors
Irving's goal of wanting to get black and poor children interested
in the aviation industry, reported the Houston Chronicle.
"I just wanted to prove to other kids that the aviation industry
needs young people and you, too, can achieve whatever dream that
you want in aviation," he said of his reason for flying around the
world. "And it doesn't matter where you come from or your economic
He said a book and documentary are likely as well as other
"I have a lot of great ideas," Irving said.