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Jamaican Aviation Student plans solo world tour in September 2006

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When 22 year-old Barrington Irving embarks on his solo world tour in September of this year, he would have been the youngest aviator and first Black American to accomplish this task.

Irving, a Jamaican national, is presently an aeronautical science major at Florida Memorial College, Miami, with a 3.7 cumulative grade point average. He is a recipient of the Florida Memorial/US Air Force Flight Awareness Scholarship and the Florida Bright Future Bright Scholarship. He has postponed summer graduation to pursue detailed planning for the historic venture through his organization “Experience Aviation” and website at www.experienceaviation.org.

Irving has already raised nearly 60% of his expected $1 million budget which included acquiring the aircraft for the historic mission.

The aircraft, a Lancair Columbia 400, was donated by Seamech International Incorporated of Bellaire, Texas, and was especially configured in Oregon. The single engine aircraft is likened to the ‘Ferrari of small aircrafts’ because of its very sophisticated features, including a state-of-the-art traffic data programming and electronic charts replacing the traditional cockpits.

With support from mentors, Irving managed to solicit monetary contributions and additional equipment from a list of other sponsors who have contributed significantly to what most have described as a “historic aviation voyage.”

So far, supporters included several aviation-related industry partners, the title sponsor being the Miami Executive Aviation at Opa Locka Airport who offered Irving office space and directions in marketing, basically setting the stage for his approach to begin formulating his plan in an effort to successfully and safely accomplish his mission. Others were Avidyne Corporation, Teledyne Continental Motors, S-Tec Corporation, Oregon Aero Incorporated, Precise Flight, Inc., Kelly Aerospace Thermal Systems, Goodyear Aviation and LightSPEED Aviation, Chevron and ExxonMobil, Artisan Aircraft, Hartzell Propeller, Aerographics, Scheme Designers – all providing additional equipment for the aircraft.

Monetary contributions have so far come from the Miami Dade Board of Commissioners, Miami Dade Aviation Department, Community Bank, the local chapter of National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees, Tuskegee Airmen and individual contributors. Flightline and Perrone companies donated the flight gears.

With enthusiasm, Irving fervently continues to reach his goal by seeking other interested sponsors for the $350,000 needed to complete his goal.

Chief Executive Officer of the Miami Executive Aviation, Mr. Fabio Alexander has nothing but praises for young Irving saying he had ‘ignited enthusiasm in the profession of aviation.” Although he was awarded scholarships in sports, Irving chose aviation instead and has taken his education quite seriously, according to Mr. Alexander.

A full schedule for the young pilot means intense training for his world tour – survival training skills, preparatory flights and installing equipment.

His belief that that there were other youth who simply needed encouragement and knowledge to pursue their passion, made him aspire to be their role model. He is currently involved in promoting careers in aviation by visiting inner-city schools and volunteering for organizations such as the Tuskegee Airmen and the Organization of Black Pilots, Take Stock in Children and 5,000 Role Models.

Raised in Carol City, an inner-city community in Miami, Irving has also included in his schedule his alma mater, Northwestern Senior High. His experience has taught him that there was little knowledge and encouragement to young aspiring blacks wanting to pursue professions in industries like aviation. So he has begun to share his vision through lectures at schools and also churches in those communities.

According to recorded date, 34 year-old German was the last person to tackle a solo world mission in 1996. Earlier, an 11 year-old boy flew around the world, but accompanied by his father.

He has received support and encouragement from Jamaica’s Consul General, Ricardo Allicock and even letters from underprivileged children as a testament to his inspiration to them. The letters, he declared would accompany him on his mission, along with his Bible.

His strongest support is his family – his parents and two younger brothers. So far, the younger of the brothers has already expressed interest in a similar career. A devout Christian, Irving injects scripture verses in his daily conversations to affirm his faith in his imminent ambitious task, which to him still seems surreal.

His interest in aviation was peaked at age 16, by his mentor, a Jamaican national, Captain Gary Robinson, a commercial pilot with United Airlines and regular customer at his parents’ Christian bookstore. After several conversations and a visit to inspect an aircraft, Irving knew where he was headed.

Highly motivated and determined, Irving said that he begun hanging around the local airports chatting with pilots, washing their small planes for a fee. His gardening chores also helped him to raise money for flying lessons.

At age 19, he received his first pilot’s license. Following that accomplishment, he enrolled in college to continue his career in aviation, at that time planning for his solo mission around the world.

Initially Irving had intended to begin his historic mission from a local airport, Opa Locka Airport in Miami. Since then he has also expressed his desire to depart from Jamaica because of his passion and strong ties to his island home. He anticipates one month for his historic journey. The longest leg will be from Newfoundland, Canada to Santa Maria, Azores and will take approximately six hours.

Irving encountered some negative responses and challenges throughout his planning. However, those rejections and other setbacks did not deter his drive to succeed in life. Instead prayers and determination guided him to pursue his dream.

He praises his parents for their encouragement and commitment to help him fulfill his mission. Like other immigrant families, young Irving said that he was grateful to his parents whom he described as hard working in order to support their sons with a modest family lifestyle and solid education background.

Young Irving’s motivation to start the aviation experience as inspired by the shortage or youths and minorities in the industry. He intends to become a commercial airline pilot, and also establish an educational institute that will inspire youth to pursue careers in aviation and aerospace and continue to enhance minority achievements in aviation.

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