Barrington Irving , a 23-year-old Jamaican-born pilot, at a news conference at Opa-locka Airport Wednesday, June 27, 2007, ending a three-month journey he said would make him the youngest person to fly around the world alone. (Alan Diaz/AP)
This Black History Month, NPR’s “Tell Me More” is taking a look at African Americans in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) who are inspiring future generations.
Today, Barrington Irving shares how his sky high dreams became a reality. A chance encounter in his parents’ bookstore put him on a path that would make him the youngest person and first African American to fly solo around the world.
Barrington Irving remembers a man walking into the store dressed in a pilot’s uniform. The man asked whether Irving might consider a future in aviation. “I immediately just said to him, I don’t think I’m smart enough to do it,” Irving remembers. “Then I asked him how much money he made and after he answered that question, I took an interest in aviation.”