Barrington Irving is a pilot, educator, and National Geographic emerging explorer. When he was 23, he set a record as the youngest person and only African American to complete a solo flight around the world. His nonprofit organization, Experience Aviation, offers programs to help get kids into aviation, as well as other math and science careers.
WHAT HE DOES
Pilot and educator
HOW HE GOT INTO AVIATION
I randomly met an airline pilot in a store. He walked up to me and asked, “Have you ever thought about becoming a pilot?” I took interest and discovered such a cool world. I never looked back, and even turned down football scholarships to pursue aviation. A random meeting changed my life.
One day my office is at 40,000 feet inside an airplane, and the next day I’m inspiring students throughout the country. Other days I work with a team of explorers and scientists to create the coolest ways for kids to learn, such as the Flying Classroom or building a car faster than a Ferrari.
THE ONE THING HE CAN’T TRAVEL WITHOUT
Comfortable shoes. I have to have shoes I can use to fly a plane and also walk in a lot of different places.
My heroes include the man who introduced me to aviation, Capt. Gary Robinson, and my parents.
WHAT HE LIKES TO DAYDREAM ABOUT
Where I would like to go next. I try to envision a place I've never been to. The sights, smells, sounds, and most fascinating things to experience there.
FAVORITE PLACES HE HAS TRAVELED
My top places are South Africa, Alaska, Egypt, Dubai, Japan, and Jamaica.
MOST HEART-POUNDING EXPERIENCE
Flying through a major ice storm and landing on a small island (Shemya, Alaska) with only 12 minutes of fuel remaining.
WHAT HE DOES FOR FUN
I like to ride my four-wheeler and drive my racecar, hang out with my kids, and go diving. Sometimes to be silly I sing to myself when I fly solo. No one can hear how horrible I sound!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE AVIATION JOKE?
If you ever want to make a small fortune in aviation, start with a big one!