* * * UPDATE: He made it! Congratulations, Barrington! * * *
When Barrington Irving climbs into his single-engine Columbia 400 airplane on March 23rd and embarks on a round-the-world flight that will make him the first African American and the youngest person ever to fly solo around the globe, he won't be alone. Also along for the ride will be thousands of students and individuals participating in the experience via the Internet.
The Microsoft Flight Simulator team is proud to be a sponsor of Barrington Irving's world flight adventure. On these pages you'll learn about Barrington, how to follow his progress, and how to use Microsoft Flight Simulator to take your own virtual journey along Barrington's route of flight.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in inner-city Miami, Barrington hopes his five-week historic flight will inspire other young people to resist the negative influences of the streets and reach for their dreams.
At 15, Barrington found his life's passion when a Jamaican airline pilot invited him to step inside the cockpit of a Boeing 777 jet. He started spending afternoons and weekends at the airport, washing planes for private aircraft owners in exchange for half-hour flights or money he could use for flying lessons. In the evening, he practiced flying on his own, using Microsoft's Flight Simulator software on his home computer.
"Microsoft Flight Simulator played an important role in my life during a time when I could not afford flight training," Barrington explains. "It kept my interest and allowed me to experience flight. Although it was simulated, I felt as if I was in the air. I followed the educational lesson outlines and literally taught myself the basics of flight. Flight Simulator became an invaluable educational tool that allowed me to dream through the world of technology. The software gave me more than a good time but rather an opportunity."
Barrington persevered, and enrolled in a community college where his tuition was partly covered by a Florida Bright Future Scholarship based on his high marks in high school. He spent every free moment thinking about aviation, either doing odd jobs to pay for flying lessons or speaking to churches, schools, or community groups, such as "5000 Role Models," about career opportunities 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 would cover college tuition and flying lessons.
In 2002, Barrington enrolled in Florida Memorial University where he did well in both academic and flight training courses. Over the next few years, he continued his volunteer work as he earned Private and Commercial Pilot and Flight Instructor licenses as well as his Instrument Rating.
In 2005, he 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 a federally funded economic development group, Miami Dade Empowerment Trust, he offered information and guidance programs to young people in South Florida that included touring planes at the airport and learning how to use a flight simulator. Given the success of that program, the development group increased its commitment to $75,000 to reach more youth in the community. Barrington has successfully used those funds to set up what he hopes will be the first of many EA Learning Centers, using donated computers and Microsoft Flight Simulator software, at Miami's Opa-locka Executive Airport.
Barrington is an inspiring role model for children and adults alike. He's a thoughtful, articulate young man, who combines the humility of a person who started with few financial resources with the self-confidence of an entrepreneur, who sees no limits to what he can achieve. Having left the city streets for a future in the sky, his goal is to encourage other young people to follow his example by leaving their fears behind to reach for the stars.
You can find out more about Barrington Irving and Experience Aviation at www.experienceaviation.org