On this day in history, June 27, 2007, Barrington Irving became the youngest person and first Jamaican-American to fly solo around the world. This was a 30,000-mile journey that took him to 27 cities, 13 countries and four continents.
Barrington Antonio Irving, Jr., born in Kingston, Jamaica on November 11, 1983, and moved to Miami, FL from Jamaica when he was six. Private flight private lessons were out of the question so Barrington Irving did what he thought was the next best thing, he washed planes and saved money doing odd jobs to buy a flight simulator game that allowed him to fly anywhere and in any kind of weather conditions from the safety of his home.
Barrington Irving hit roadblock after roadblock for nearly two and a half years. Funding was difficult to come by, but he needed to amass $1 million for the expedition, including the purchase of a single-engine Lancair Columbia 400. For two and a half years, he was rejected by corporate sponsors but eventually, with the help of Miami Executive Aviation owner Fabio Alexander, Irving received funding from a number of aviation companies along with $50,000 from the Miami-Dade County Commission.
At the age of 23, Irving finally had his plane ready for his flight around the world, but he had no radar, no de-icing system and thirty dollars in his pocket when he left Miami, about 97 days later, when Irving returned, and was greeted by thousands of people with congratulatory banners and signs, and what really stuck out was the number of young people who had followed his journey. It earned him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, prompted the U.S. House to pass a resolution in his honor and inspired pride throughout the Jamaican community.
Today the corporate jet captain runs ‘Experience Aviation Inc.’, a Miami-based non-profit organization that provides career guidance to students and helps teachers develop curriculums in specialized areas such as engineering and technology.