Barrington Irving

In 2007, Barrington Irving became the first African-American to fly a plane around the world solo -- and also, at 23, reportedly the youngest.

Barrington knew at age 15 that he wanted to fly. Bypassing a sports scholarship that could have gotten him out of his inner-city neighborhood, Irving undertook odd jobs, studied extra hours (he studied aerospace engineering at Florida Memorial University), and competed for fellowships that would get him his dream: a pilot’s license.

Irving built his own plane -- from donated parts -- and completed his 26,800-mile flight in 95 days. Through Irving’s nonprofit, Experience Aviation, middle and high school students tackle aviation projects after school and during summers. In 2008, young Captain Irving took off for another flight, this time in a single-engine plane produced entirely by his 60 Build and Soar students. His message? Sky’s the limit.

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