After studying aerospace science, and being awarded a $100,000 scholarship, it seemed that Jamaican-born pilot Barrington Irving was well equipped to reach new heights.
To his surprise, money for school was only the first hurdle.
When Irving set out to become the youngest and first Black pilot to circle the globe, he faced mountains of rejection and doubt.
Over 50 would-be sponsors claimed he was too young and, even with 600 flight hours under his belt, lacked experience for such a journey. Was this a sign to give up?
Of course not! He studied hard and practiced flight routes on his at-home simulator, and even worked airport jobs. He secured the funding, free aircraft parts, and public following necessary to circle the globe. Would this finally be enough to secure his dream?
Finally, on March 23, 2007, Irving flew “Inspiration,” his single-engine plane, around the world in 96 days. Yet his fight wasn’t over.
Today, Irving continues to clear a path for the next generation of Black youth to discover careers of their own in science, engineering, and exploration through his nonprofit organization Experience Aviation.
Irving’s refusal to give up on his goals reminds us of what happens when we follow our hearts and keep our focus, even in the face of rejection and failure. So follow your heart and aim for the sky!