This month we interview Barrington Irving the 22-year-old Jamaican-American,who is attempting to be the youngest to fly solo around the world on September 1, 2006.
Where in Jamaica are you from?
How long have you lived in Florida?
I’ve been living here in Florida since I was six.
How did you become interested in flying?
Captain Gary Robinson who is Jamaican approached me when I was 16 and asked me if I ever considered becoming a pilot. I wasn’t that interested at first because I was unaware of the career opportunities and didn’t see many blacks in the aviation field. Captain Robinson began to mentor me and took me to the airport to see the Boeing 777 he flew and after taking a tour I was hooked. I eventually turned down football scholarships to pursue a career in aviation even though I did not know how I would be able to afford flight lessons.
How did you be come involved with planning a flight around the world?
After earning my first pilot’s license I had the greatest feeling ever and I wanted other youths in the community to experience the way aviation touched my life. I did not want to wait until I was 40 because I’m not sure if I would make it pass the age of 21 or even 25 in my neighborhood. I told myself if I had one opportunity to make a significant impact, I would fly around the world to show kids that I did it and it didn’t matter where I came from. It wasn’t until a year later that I found out I would be setting world records of being the youngest as well as first of African descent to fly solo around the world.
What age was the youngest person to have accomplished the same feat?
To my knowledge the youngest person is 34 years old.
How many black people have done this?
What was your motivation to accomplish this feat?
To show kids a better alternative from the negative influences on the streets.
I know you are raising funds for the trip. How is that going?
I’m currently seeking additional funding and I’ve reached 75% of my goal. It is vital that I have the necessary funding in place in order for me to depart.
At the recent PM reception it was mentioned you would start your solo flight in Jamaica. Is this still the case?
I’m currently working with the Consulate and Honorable Prime Minister Portia Simpson in order to make this happen. It is a privilege and honor to have the belief, love, and support of my country.
What route will you take?
Eastbound and I will stop in countries such as the Azores, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Egypt, Dubai, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, Japan, Russia.
Why are you taking that route?
This route will provide better winds which will help me conserve fuel and travel faster.
Do you need special permission from some countries to fly in their airspace?
Absolutely, it is a must that I have the proper clearances.Universal Weather is a sponsor of my flight plan. If I’m not cleared I could get shot down or go to jail.
Have you taken any practice runs?
I’ve done extensive mountain flying, island flying, icing, and thunderstorm flights.
How will you entertain yourself an extremely strenuous, lonely trip around the world?
As I complete this flight I will be thinking about the many individuals that helped to make this voyage possible. I will also be thinking about the many students that are counting on me to succeed.
Once you complete the flight will write a book?
I certainly will and also plan to have a documentary.
When I was growing up in Jamaica I was told if you don’t know mathematics you can’t become a pilot. What educational background and subjects would you say are important?
Having a good understanding of math, science, eglish, reading comprehension, and communications is a must. In this industry you will work with many people and it is important that you are professional on the ground and in the air.
Thanks for the interview. Do you have any word of encouragement for the young Jamaicans out there who want to become pilots?
I would like for young Jamaicans to know with God all things are possible. I went from washing planes to owning an aircraft worth $600,000. I also dared to follow my dream when everyone said I was too young and would not be able to afford it. Also special thanks to mom and dad for instilling the Jamaican values that have made me the man I am today.
For more information see Barrington Irving website : http://www.experienceaviation.org/