"Build and Soar" Program Takes Flight
Sixty high-school students
participating in aviator Barrington Irving's "Build and Soar"
program got a special thrill recently, when the plane they
assembled was successfully test flown by Irving himself on October
Hundreds of students, supporters and onlookers gathered last
Wednesday morning at Miami's Opa-Locka airport to witness the
event. Just before take off, Irving told the crowd, "I'm not
nervous about flying this aircraft because I believe in our
students. I'm about to do something monumental."
After buckling in and starting the engine, Irving headed into
the wild blue yonder... but returned to the runway shortly after
take off because the canopy had come loose, Miami's CBS-4 TV
reported. The second try went perfectly, as Irving took the
student-built aircraft up to a thousand feet and cruised for a bit
before performing a series of turns.
Upon his return, he was greeted by a group of ecstatic students.
Irving said, "I feel good. I'm shaking, but these kids did a really
great job. They built a solid airplane, I feel like a father."
The plane, a Zodiac 601XL, is a two-seat kit-built plane
manufactured by the Zenith Aircraft Company of Mexico, MO. In honor
of the single-engine Columbia 400 aircraft called "Inspiration"
that Irving flew on last year's record-setting
flight, the XL was dubbed "Inspiration II" by the
Intended to give students exposure to the field of aviation,
Build & Soar, a 10-week summer program, is offered by Irving's
non-profit Experience Aviation Inc. in collaboration with the
George T. Baker Aviation School. Students were given a hands-on
opportunity for learning by building the plane and participating in
other aeronautically related projects.
Irving said he decided to test-fly Inspiration II 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."
Embarking on a 30,000-mile adventure to inspire inner-city youth
to aspire to greater things, Irving set new world's records last
year both as the youngest pilot and the first person of African
descent to circumnavigate the globe solo by air.