Some 50 students from a Las Vegas magnet school crowded the Mitsubishi MU-2 exhibit (Booth No. C6920) to hear Barrington Irving describe his around-the-world flight in a Columbia 400, in his own words.
The event was sponsored by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, and NBAA provided tickets for the students from Rancho High School to attend the NBAA convention and meet Irving, who was the youngest pilot to fly solo around the world and the first African American to do so. He now leads the Mitsubishi MU-2 Dream & Soar Program.
Recalling the flight, Irving said the best part was the return home, landing in Miami. The worst? Flying from Japan across the frigid Bering Sea and searching for his next stop, remote Shemya Island. Home to a U.S. Air Force base, and not much else, Shemya is a bit of rock at the end of the Aleutian chain, just two miles long by one mile wide. “It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there,” Irving remembered.
Irving’s smile lit up the exhibit as the students crowded close, many of them from the kind of challenged neighborhood where Irving was born.
“NBAA supports efforts to inspire the next generation of visionaries to consider careers in aviation,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “We salute Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America and Barrington Irving for their outstanding work to ensure that our nation’s youth have access to the exciting and rewarding opportunities the [aviation] industry has to offer.”
Irving also heads Experience Aviation, a non-profit program to encourage students to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
Looking around at the Las Vegas trappings surrounding him as he spoke, Irving emphasized the importance of an education in these fields, adding, “This is the gamble they should be taking.”