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Barrington Irving Honored on October 27, 2007 – South Florida

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BROWARD COUNTY, FL – On Saturday, October 27, 2007, the Broward County African- American Research Library and Cultural Center, the City of Lauderdale Lakes, and the City of Lauderhill will honor the accomplishments of Barrington Irving, the world’s youngest global aviator.

The following events will take place:

At 9:00 am, the City of Lauderdale Lakes will dedicate a bridge in his honor at the Park Lakes Elementary School, 3925 N. State Road 7. From there, a motorcade will proceed to the African American Research Library and Cultural Center/Rev. Samuel Delevoe Park complex located at 2650 Sistrunk Boulevard (NW 6 Street), Fort Lauderdale. The motorcade will be greeted by the community and marching bands. At 11:00 am in Delevoe Park, Irving will share his adventures with attendees. His autographed flight suit and robotic equipment used in the operation of airplanes will be on display in the library.

The motorcade will begin at 10 am from NW 36 Street and State Road 7 in Lauderdale Lakes, and proceed south on State Road 7/441 to NW 19 Street; east on NW 19 Street to NW 31 Avenue; south on NW 31 Avenue to Sistrunk Boulevard; east on Sistrunk Boulevard, and end at the Rev. Samuel Delevoe Park/African American Research Library and Cultural Center complex,.

Barrington Irving is a 23-year old senior at Florida Memorial University, who piloted a single-engine plane, “Inspiration,” that made a 26,800-mile, round-the-world flight. When he returned to Miami on June 27, he set two world records. He is the first person of African descent and the youngest person to fly solo around the globe.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in inner-city Miami, Barrington hopes his historic flight will inspire young people to resist the negative influences of the streets and work toward their dreams.

As a teenager, Barrington and his friends shared a sense of hopelessness about their futures, as there was little incentive or opportunity for minority youth in the inner city to pursue professional careers. He earned good grades in high school but saw a football scholarship as his only route to college. Then one afternoon, while working in his parents’ Christian bookstore, Barrington began talking with a customer. The customer, Captain Gary Robinson, a Jamaican airline pilot, invited him to the airport the next day to see the cockpit of the Boeing 777 jet he flew for United Airlines. That day changed the young man’s life forever.

At age 15, Barrington discovered his passion and spent afternoons and weekends at the airport, washing planes for private aircraft owners in exchange for half-hour flights or money used for flying lessons. Every evening he practiced flying on his own, using $40 Microsoft Flight Simulator software. Focused on the dream of becoming a pilot, he turned down college football scholarships and enrolled in a community college. His tuition was partly covered by a Florida Bright Future Scholarship as a result of his excellent grades in high school.

Barrington spent every free moment thinking about aviation, doing odd jobs to pay for flight lessons and speaking to church, school, and community groups, such as “5000 Role Models,” about career opportunities for youth in the aviation field. Before long, his volunteer efforts were noticed by community leaders in Miami, who awarded him a joint Air Force/Florida Memorial University Flight Awareness Scholarship that covered tuition and flying lessons.
In 2003, Barrington enrolled in Florida Memorial University, where he excelled in both academic and flight training courses. He continued volunteer work as he earned his Private, Commercial Pilot, and Flight Instructor licenses and Instrument Rating.

In 2005, the young pilot founded a nonprofit organization, Experience Aviation, Inc., to address the significant shortage of youth pursuing careers in aviation and aerospace. Supported by a $10,000 grant from Miami Dade Empowerment Trust, a federally-funded economic development group, he offered information and guidance programs to young people in South Florida, including plane tours at the airport and the use of a flight simulator. Given the success of that program, the Empowerment Trust increased its commitment to $75,000 to reach more youth in the community. Barrington used those funds to create the first Experience Aviation Learning Center at Miami’s Opa Locka Airport with donated computers and Microsoft Flight Simulator software.

The Columbia 400 aircraft that carried Barrington on his World Flight Adventure has its own story. In 2003, Barrington began calling aircraft manufacturers requesting them to loan, lease or donate a plane he could use to make aviation history. When no one said yes, he decided to ask manufacturers of the various components to donate just one of their individual products to him; he also asked Columbia, an aircraft manufacturer to assemble the plane if he received the parts.

During the next year, he visited aviation trade shows around the country, securing over $300,000 in donated components, including the engine, tires, cockpit systems, seats and more. Columbia built the world’s fastest single-engine piston airplane, ready to be modified with extended fuel tanks a few weeks before the global flight. Also, he received fuel from Chevron, enabling him to train for the global flight and visit schools around the country.

Microsoft hosted a flight ‘blog’ during the trip, and donated free flight simulator software to students taking part in Experience Aviation programs. Two satellite communications companies donated a tracking system for students to join Barrington’s flight, in real time, through Internet download. A software development company created a lifelike simulation of Barrington in the cockpit of his plane.

Barrington is an inspiring role model for children and adults alike. He began his aviation career with few financial resources, but continues to pursue his goals with self confidence as an entrepreneur who sees no limits to what can be achieved. Having left the city streets for a future in the sky, he believes his World Flight Adventure will encourage young people to forget their fears and reach for the stars.

The award-winning Broward County Libraries Division, founded in 1974, provides essential quality-of-life community service as well as outstanding customer service throughout Broward County. The Library consists of 37 branches that provide three million items and more than 2,000 computers for public use, and after-school literacy, youth, and teen programs. Its website, www.broward.org/library, includes free online reference and information databases in addition to access about library services, locations, and events that customers access on average 300,000 times a month. The Broward County Library is the ninth-largest library system in the United States, serving over nine million walk-in customers annually.

Contact: Alicia Antone, 954-625-2807, [email protected]

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