Q&A with Barrington Irving
Barrington Irving is the Guinness World Record holder for "Youngest Person to Fly Solo Around the World."
How did you come up with the idea of flying solo across the world?
I wanted to inspire other kids to pursue careers in aviation and aerospace so I thought this might be an amazing feat that would inspire them.
How do you feel about achieving a Guinness World Record?
Awesome, unreal, humbled, and inspired to accomplish even greater feats. Records are made to be broken. I’m just glad I have two records, and one of them--being the first black pilot to circle the world--no one will be able to ever break because I was the first.
What is your earliest memory of Guinness World Records?
I remember as a kid that I could never afford to purchase the Guinness records books, but every time I went shopping with my mom, I would read through the Guinness book, wondering what amazing talent I might have myself. Little did I know someday my own name would appear there!
Who do you consider to be your inspiration for this achievement?
My inspiration was my Jamaican parents for working so hard when they came to the U.S. and providing me an opportunity to receive an education. In addition, my mentor Capt. Gary Robinson inspired me to fly and Fabio Alexander, my first donor, was the first person to believe in my record-setting flight.
Can you share with us any moments that were scary or dramatic? Did you have a time that you thought you wouldn’t make it?
When I began this historic venture, I immediately realized why the youngest person before me was in his 30’s. The skills, patience, timing, training, and decisions I made at 23 helped me to survive. I almost died encountering a sandstorm at 17,000 feet over Saudi Arabia; crossing the North Atlantic on a 12.5-hour flight; encountering a monsoon over Vietnam (when I dropped my airplane from 20,000 feet to 9,200 ft., almost colliding into a mountain); and crossing the Bering Sea, when my aircraft was heavily covered with ice and I landed with only 12 minutes of fuel remaining on an island only one mile long!
Inversely, when did you realize that you were going to make it around the globe?
I never really felt comfortable until I reached Alaska and I saw US cable TV. (laughs)
How did you keep yourself alert and focused during the flight?
Eating sunflower seeds, drinking energy drinks, and relying on my own sheer will. Tricking myself mentally is what kept me focused. I took off my watch and said to myself: "No more will I worry about the time, I determine time now."
What happened to your plane once your trip was finished?
I’ve used it to fly 600 kids around the U.S.
What did your family and friends think of your expedition?
Crazy, daring, perplexed, scared... now they are glad to know I’m a Guinness World Record Holder!
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to provide a teaching experience like no other from a flying classroom, 40,000 feet in the air, helping kids explore math and science.