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Record-Breaking Pilot Captain Barrington Irving Inspires North Texas STEM Students With 'Flying Classroom'

RICHARDSON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - In recognition of Black History Month, Richardson ISD introduced STEM students to a pilot who not only broke records, but barriers in his industry.

As a young boy, aviation absolutely captivated Captain Barrington Irving.

However, born in Jamaica and brought up in inner-city Miami, he never thought becoming a pilot was obtainable.

That is, until he met one when he was 15 years old.

"I asked him one question," he said. "'How much money do you make?' and after his response the rest is history. I took an interest in aviation and little did I know this industry would give me a chance to see the world."

The whole world.

In 2007, at the age of 23, Captain Barrington Irving went on 97-day journey, flying 30,000 miles.

Solo pilot Barrington Irving, 23, of the
Solo pilot Barrington Irving, 23, of the United States receives an honorary welcome after landing at Opa-Locka Airport in Miami, Florida 27 June 2007. Irving has become the youngest and first black pilot, to fly solo around the world. It took Irving three months to fly his Columbia Lancair round the globe visiting four continents. AFP PHOTO / ROBERT SULLIVAN (Photo credit should read ROBERT SULLIVAN/AFP via Getty Images)

"I was able to set a Guinness World Record becoming the youngest person to fly solo around the world and also the first black man to do it," he said.

When he returned he wanted to find a way to use his passion to inspire young students.

He created "The Flying Classroom" which not only exposes students to aviation, but leads them on virtual global expeditions through dozens of STEM projects.

On Tuesday, Feb. 2,  he taught Richardson ISD STEM students at the Addison Airport.

"There's no greater feeling than knowing you're possibly changing the trajectory of someone's life, he said.

He's making an impact on students like Berkner High School senior Oreoluwa Sowemimo, who like Irving also took interest in aviation at a young age.

"When my father took me on a flight to the UK the first time, I was really impressed by how the plane worked," Sowemimo said. "Ever since then aviation has been my major goal. I want to be an aerospace engineer."

Captain Irving gives him inspiration.

"He flew around the world and despite of his age and his color, he was still able to achieve a lot and that's really inspiring to me," he said. "Hopefully, I can live up to what he has done."

"That's what makes this experience amazing," Irving said. "To not only inspire students, but also empower them."


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