13 Oct Record-Setting Miami Pilot to Fly Student-Built Plane on Wednesday
Excitement Builds as Thousands of Students and Fans Anticipate Oct. 15th Test Flight
Miami, FL, October 13, 2008 — Captain Barrington Irving, who became the youngest person, at 23, and first black pilot to fly solo around the world in 2007, will take flight again at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 15th, from Opa-locka Airport in Miami. He will be test-flying an aircraft built by 60 high school students in a record 10 weeks in the innovative Build & Soar program launched this summer by Irving’s nonprofit Experience Aviation Inc. in collaboration with the Miami-Dade Public Schools/George T. Baker Aviation School.
The public is invited to join government officials, dignitaries, celebrities, members of the local and national media, and more than 2000 students from area schools for the unveiling of the student-built plane, custom painted by Master Artist David “LEBO” LeBatard, and its first flight. The day’s activities leading up to the 10:00 a.m. test flight include a VIP breakfast at 8:00 a.m.; an Aviation and Aerospace Student Career Fair /Aircraft Display at 8:30; a Red Bull/Air Force patriotic skydiving show beginning at 9:30; music by DJ Irie; and a special performance by the Cheer Illuzions All-Star Cheerleading Squad.
This summer, Irving’s first-ever Build & Soar program gave Miami high school students the opportunity to learn how an aircraft is constructed and apply what they learned by building a plane in only 10 weeks, a feat which typically takes one to two years. Under the supervision of
Students who constructed the Zenith XL aircraft named it Inspiration II in honor of the now-historic single-engine aircraft, called Inspiration, that carried Captain Irving on his 30,000-mile, record-setting trip. He will test fly Inspiration II, he said, “as a testament to my faith in these students and their abilities. I flew around the world to show other youth that anyone with a dream who is willing to work hard can achieve what others consider impossible. With Build & Soar, I wanted to give Miami high school students a chance to show the world what they can do.”
Baker Aviation instructors, students in the program also learned aviation safety, built rockets, and performed wind tunnel aerodynamic flight testing.
Half of the 60 the students in the program attended the Baker Aviation School. The other 30 students, from Miami-Dade and Broward County schools, took part in an after-school Discover Aviation course taught by Experience Aviation instructors during the 2008 spring semester. Many of the students who took the course started with low grades or showed little interest in their studies. With Captain Irving as a mentor, they worked to bring their GPA’s up to 2.0 in order to qualify for the 10-week summer program. Watching the plane take shape was the experience of a lifetime for some of these students, many of whom now say they plan to become pilots or air traffic controllers or pursue other careers in the aviation industry.
“We enjoyed a successful partnership with Barrington and Experience Aviation this summer,” said George T. Baker School Principal Sean Gallagan. “Build & Soar is an authentic bridge between education and industry that creates relevance to learning.”
Established as a Summer Demonstration Project by Miami-Dade Public Schools, Build & Soar is supported by title sponsors Miami-Dade County Public Schools; George T. Baker Aviation School in collaboration with South Florida Work Force and The Children’s Trust; Alonzo Mourning Charities; Miami Executive Aviation; Zenith Aircraft; Teledyne Continental Motors, Chevron Global Aviation; the Batchelor Foundation, the AVE Aviation and Commerce Center, and Turbine Aircraft Systems. Other sponsors include Dolphin Stadium; Denver Centennial Airport; Latitude Zero Fine Art Concepts; Aircraft Parts Sales Inc.; Red Bull; Miami Parks and Recreation; Dade County Commissioners; the City of Miami; and the 5000 Role Models of Excellence.
Tickets to the October 15th VIP breakfast may be purchased online at www.experienceaviation.org (click on red invitation tab on the home page). All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Experience Aviation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. For more information about the VIP breakfast or the day’s events, contact Mr. Brown at (305) 537-9291.
Experience Aviation, Inc. (EA) was founded by Barrington Irving in 2005 to motivate youth and address the shortage of technically skilled professionals in aviation, aerospace, and related career fields. Since then, the EA team and their partners, middle and high school educators and community leaders, have worked toward a common goal. Their mission is to inspire young people to identify and pursue their dreams through aviation-related programs designed to build math, science, reading, and problem-solving skills. For more information about EA and its programs, please visit www.experienceaviation.org.