Barrington Irving was raised in Miami and is brought up in a city full of poverty and crime. However, he was able to push himself and rise above all the challenges to become the first, youngest, and only African American to fly on his own around the world.
Here are some important facts about Irving.
- At the age of 15, he was already working in their family-owned bookstore. One of their customers, a professional Jamaican pilot, spoke to Irvin and asked if he ever thought of becoming a pilot one day. Irving answered that he thinks he isn’t smart enough to be one.
However, the pilot invited him the next day to sit in the cockpit of a commercial plane he flew. Irving was instantly hooked. Irving believes that there are many kids who are probably interested in science and exploration but the lack of opportunity and confidence hinders them from pursuing their dream.
- Irving turned down a full football scholarship to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot. Instead, he cleaned and washed airplanes to earn money for his flight school. He also enhanced his flying skills by practicing on a flight simulator video game at home.
His hard work and passion led him to graduate magna cum laude from an aeronautical space science program. He eventually built a plane by himself and established a dynamic educational nonprofit program.
- He dreamt of flying solo around the world but received more than 50 sponsorship rejections before he was able to convince a couple of manufacturers to donate aircraft parts. He took off without a weather radar, de-icing system, and with just $30 in his pocket. His motivation was to prove people that he can do it even if they did not believe in him.
Irving flew for 97 days and stopped 26 times. He went through thunderstorms, snowstorms, and sandstorms before he was able to successfully touch down in Miami.
- His nonprofit organization called Experience Aviation was established to increase the number of kids and encourage them to get into aviation as well as other science and math careers. This includes summer programs for middle and high school students and after school courses where they teach kids to create and operate robotic systems, experience simulators, and visit major corporations.
His Build and Soar program gave students from failing schools a chance to build an airplane in a span of 10 weeks. After completing the project, Irving took off with their new plane.
Read the original story via National Geographic.