DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Barrington Irving became the first black pilot to solo circumnavigate the globe in 2007.
Irving was 23 years old when he piloted his single-engined Cessna Corvalis 400, ‘Inspiration’. He also broke another world record, becoming the youngest person ever to fly this incredible journey.
His journey began on March 23, 2007 at Miami’s Opa-Locka Airport (OPF). He would go on to make 27 stops in the epic flight in countries including Canada, Spain, Greece, India and Japan.
In total, Irving had flown 26,800 miles over 97 days. Despite facing massive thunderstorms, terrifying turbulence and bouts of loneliness, he pressed on, buoyed by the incredible support he received from fans.
Irving was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on November 11, 1983, but grew up in Miami. At 15 years old, he had been invited into the flight deck of a United Airlines Boeing 777, and it was here that his fascination with aviation began.
He started working at his local airport and, while at home, used his computer flight simulator to practice his flying.
A keen footballer, Irving was offered several scholarships when he graduated from high school. But his passion lay in aviation, and in 2003 he was granted a US$100,000 Florida Memorial University/US Air Force Flight Awareness Scholarship. He then went on to study aeronautical science.
In a bid to empower other young people, especially those in minority groups, Irving established the nonprofit organization Experience Aviation in 2005.
However, he faced his own struggles when attempting to gather financial support for his solo flight. Irving had approached numerous sponsors for two years and was met with over 50 rejections. He later said that he believed they rejected him because of his age and lack of experience.
Featured Image: The support Irving received during his journey kept his spirits high. Photo: Barrington Irving via Twitter.