To commemorate Black History Month, Robb Report is publishing a series of conversations between Black designers, thinkers and creators whose work is shaping the luxury sector across generations. This is installment two.
It didn’t take Barrington Irving, Jr. long to start giving back after he broke a Guinness World Record in 2007. At 23, he became the youngest person, and the first Black pilot, to solo-circumnavigate the globe. Just a year later, leading the “Build & Soar” summer class at Miami’s George T. Baker Aviation School, Irving taught a group of high-school students how to build a working airplane.
After completing the aircraft came the scary part. Despite harboring suspicions about its airworthiness, Irving kept his promise to the students and flew the Zenith XL. He took off from a private airport at Opa-Locka outside Miami and circled the airfield several times before landing safely.
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Irving’s work with young people of color over the last 15 years via his Experience Aviation foundation and Flying Classroom has prompted many to pursue careers in aviation, from Air Force pilots to US Navy aviators to commercial airline pilots.
One of his brightest lights is Dickson Edwin Usher, known as “Usher” to his friends, who was in Irving’s “Build & Soar” class. Then a high school junior, Usher recalls wondering if Irving would really fly the homemade airplane. “He was standing there next to the airplane, his head bent deep in prayer,” Usher says. “At that point, I knew he would fly it.”
Fifteen years later, Usher is a pilot for Flexjet, with multiple aircraft type ratings and over 6,000 flight hours. He credits Irving’s class with nurturing his passion for aviation as well as giving him the fortitude for the long route it took to get there.