Renowned aviator Barrington Irving gave an inspiring message about aviation as a career to hundreds of middle and high school students from central Florida today at the NBAA Convention. In 2007, at just 23, Irving flew solo around the world in a Columbia 400, dubbed Inspiration because he had to ask individual suppliers for donated parts so he could afford the airplane. After flying more than 30,000 miles without radar or anti-icing systems, he became the first African American and the youngest person to fly solo around the world.
Irving said he wanted to fly around the world to inspire kids, something that continues today with his Experience Aviation Foundation in Miami. Mitsubishi, maker of the MU-2, is also sponsoring him for a U.S. campaign to spur the interest of young people in science and math. On this subject, Irving told attendees, “The U.S. is 27th and 24th in science and math–frankly, we suck. I want to empower young people, through aviation, in terms of math and science so we can improve our ranking.”
Earlier this week at the NBAA show, Hawker Beechcraft announced it is donating a Hawker 400XPr jet to serve as “Classroom in the Sky” for Irving’s latest project. He will expose millions of students to aviation by allowing them to interact with him during a planned around-the-world flight in the light jet.