Barrington Irving, who in 2007 became the youngest pilot to solo around the world in a single-engine airplane, will be recognized during the NBAA convention for his continued effort to inspire young people to pursue aviation and aerospace careers. NBAA will present its 2019 American Spirit Award to Irving during the second-day keynote session of its Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition.
“After discovering his own future in aviation, Barrington Irving has dedicated his life in a tireless effort to promote STEM+ careers as accessible and attainable paths by which others may pursue and realize their own dreams,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “He embodies a tremendous spirit of inspiration and mentorship that not only serves as an important example for the students who have benefitted from his guidance but for everyone working in business aviation.”
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Irving grew up in Miami believing that college football was his only opportunity to pursue higher education, NBAA said, adding he received several scholarship offers along those lines. But a Jamaican airline pilot provided guidance and mentoring that led Irving to instead pursue a career in aviation.
“Those experiences set Irving on a course that culminated in his 97-day solo flight around the globe in a single-engine piston aircraft—appropriately christened ‘Inspiration’—to demonstrate to young people worldwide that they could also achieve their dreams,” the association said.
Irving subsequently founded Experience Aviation at Opa-Locka Executive Airport, along with the Experience Aviation Learning Center that is dedicated to empowering middle and high school students in the Miami area to pursue STEM careers, including within aviation and aerospace.
“Irving has continued to encourage students from all walks of life with the Flying Classroom, combining air, land, and sea expeditions with a digital curriculum to engage millions of children throughout the world,” NBAA added. Irving has frequently participated at NBAA-BACE, both speaking and mentoring during NBAA’s Careers in Business Aviation Day.
Presented in the past to Bruce Whitman, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, John and Martha King, and the passengers and crew of Flight 93, among others, NBAA’s American Spirit Award recognizes “an individual within business aviation who exemplifies the courage, pursuit of excellence and service to others that characterize men and women who created and nurtured the American aviation community.”