Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lift Him Up!

I've always been an aviation buff. Since I was a kid, I've been able to visually name most types of civil (passenger) and military aircraft from around the world, but I never transformed that love of aircraft into a passion for flight itself. That's why I'm glad there are young men like Barrington Irving around.

Mr. Irving just completed a solo, round-the-world airplane flight. He's the youngest to ever do so, and the first Black. His itinerary brought him to Houston yesterday, and his trip concluded in Miami today. Why did he do it? Well according to the website of his nonprofit organization, he was motivated to attempt the journey because of;

"...the hopelessness and negative influences in my community! I was born in Kingston, Jamaica but have lived in inner-city Miami since I was 6 years old. When I was a teenager, there was little incentive for me or my classmates to get off the streets and pursue real careers. And the situation hasn't improved: in the neighborhoods between my home and high school, more than 24 kids under the age of 21 were murdered by other kids under 21 in the past year alone. I believe part of the reason for this is the lack of hope inner-city youth see for their futures—I want to show them they can do more with their lives than resort to violence! I'm also motivated to show the few people who doubted what I could do that anything is possible—they said I was too young and had no money, but that hasn't stopped me."

No doubt. When he couldn't find a sponsor willing to donate, lend, or lease him an aircraft for the journey, he;

"...went to manufacturers of the individual components such as the engine, cockpit system, seats, tires, and so forth. The plane, a Columbia 400, was manufactured by Columbia Aircraft in Bend, Oregon using donated parts from Teledyne Continental Motors, Avidyne, Kelly Aerospace, Precise Flight, S-TEC, Oregon Aero, Goodyear, and Seamech."

Impressed yet? Well, as I said earlier, he's also formed a non profit organization to

" encourage youth to pursue careers in aviation. The industry itself faces a shortage of qualified personnel for at least the next 10 years, and these youth have the potential to fill those jobs. They just need to know how and where they can get the necessary training, and more important, they need to believe they have the potential to succeed.

His plane is named Inspiration, and you can view his flightpath here, or go here to read his blog of the trip.

Inspiration indeed.

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