Saturday, June 30, 2007

Youngest Pilot To Solo World

When I traveled around the world for 8 months in '95 I made the ultimate dream of my life come true. The trip took me through over a dozen countries via train, bus and airplane and was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. Just imagine if I could have played the role of tourist and pilot too. A 23-year old from Miami just finished such an adventure.

Barrington Irving has become the youngest and first black person to fly solo around the world after a journey throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia, battling weather and fatigue.

But Irving's first struggle was between doubt and his dream. Growing up in Miami Gardens, Irving said he was surrounded by negativity. His peers were getting shot or shooting up and getting arrested. He came from a healthy, God-fearing family -- but thought the only option to succeed was to become a football player.

At 15, Irving found his role model in United Airlines pilot Capt. Gary Robinson. Robinson was black like him, Jamaican like him. He said he felt that if Robinson could fly, he could fly.

At 19, Irving got his pilot's license. And soon he started getting these fantasies about flying around the world. Some of his classmates, Irving said, thought he was a little crazy.

But Irving said he wanted to see the world, and he wanted the world to see that an inner-city youth can accomplish anything with enough determination. Plus, he hoped that one day he would inspire a child to be a pilot, as Robinson did for him.

Eventually, Irving amassed $1.2 million worth of sponsorships and the plane. He took off March 23, planning to complete the trip in 41 days. His airplane, a Columbia 400, was assembled using over $300,000 in donated parts.

Well, on Wednesday, June 27, 2007, at 10:26 a.m. Irving completed his flight around the world, landing at Opa-locka Airport near Miami, Florida after 95 days of travel. Think maybe he and I can team-up for his next trip? I'd be willing to pay half to gas bill. I'd even pump it!

Research info provided by: Robert Samuels of the Miami Herald

And here's a "fly" poem:

Paranomia, Reclining In A Hammock

Notice the wading stork as it dips for crayfish-

or the sound of a bamboo flute hitting a high note that
sails on the wind or imagine the feel of a kimono
draped over a silk screen panel that depicts
water lilies with rays of sun reflecting
off it or maybe a whole life etched
in the eye of a moth's wing
before it turns to powder
or the whole world
threaded into the silver
web of a spider then detached
from any real life or soil sea sand
shore with hardy tubers deep in red
clay or packed with demons or picture a
dingy with legs dangling over the side or leaping
sardines glinting without hearts and continue this image
indefinitely or at least until the place becomes somewhere
else in a passing fog that dims any brighter light or a
half-moon after the avalanche on horseback with
a map and compass wearing white gloves to
the opera where you wait for the applause
to stop then elegantly walk towards the
exit sign leaving your fancy program
under the seat.

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