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Record-Setting Pilot Helps Kids Dreams Take Flight

The youngest and first African-American pilot to fly solo around the world, Barrington Irving is now helping others' dreams take flight.  Irving recently took a test ride in an aircraft that was built from the ground up by Miami, Fla., high school students.  The Zenith XL's wings, the propellers, the gear stick, and engine were all constructed by 60 Miami Dade high school students over the summer as part of Irving's "Build & Soar Program."  The students built the experimental plane in about 10 weeks, compared to the usual year that is required for such a project.  To prove that he believes in his student's accomplishments, Irving gave the Inspiration II its test flight, noting that his program is designed to show inner city kids that the sky does not have to be the limit.  After successfully landing he was greeted by a group of ecstatic students.  "I feel excited because it's very inspirational to know I built a plane," said Denzel Brown.  "I feel good," said Irving, "[These kids] built a solid airplane.  I feel like a father."  Build & Soar, a 10-week summer program, is offered by Irving's non-profit Experience Aviation Inc. in collaboration with the George T. Baker Aviation School.  Students in the program also engaged in project-based learning opportunities where they built rockets, constructed wind tunnel aerodynamic flight testing, and participated in numerous real and computer simulations.  Many of the students say they now plan to become pilots or pursue other careers in the aviation industry.

November 12, 2008

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