MILES O'BRIEN: In Miami this morning, a young man with a big dream is getting ready to take flight on a long journey, a very long journey. What he's done Barrington Irving, all of 23 years old, is hoping to be the youngest person to fly solo around the world, and the first African-American to do so. Barrington departs in just about an hour and a half. He's a busy guy, so we do appreciate him taking a little bit of time to be with us. Barrington, good to have you with us, and I know you're getting ready. So we'll make it quick. First of all, why are you doing this?
BARRINGTON, IRVING, PILOT: Well, the whole purpose of doing this, I created my own non-profit organization called Experience Aviation, and we're trying to address the shortage of youth pursuing careers in aviation, and this flight really serves as a beacon to attract as many youth to the aviation industry that is in desperate need of professionals.
M. O'BRIEN: Now you yourself were inspired by an airline pilot by the name of Gary Robinson. He flies for United Airlines. I know he's there with you today.
IRVING: Yes, he is.
M. O'BRIEN: What got you enthused? You're a big aviation enthusiast? What got you enthused about it?
IRVING: Well, just the fact that for Gary to come out and take the time to approach me and get me involved in aviation. You know, a kid in the inner city that didn't think he was smart enough to become a pilot, and just began to mentor me. It's a wonderful world and a wonderful industry, and it has the quality my life.
M. O'BRIEN: You know, we have some pictures of Gary, which I'd like to include, because we want to give the tip of the hat to him. But before you met him, did you always have dreams that you wanted to fly? Was this something you always wanted to do?
IRVING: No, basically my only hope was getting out of the inner city with a football scholarship. I had football scholarship offers and I turned them down, and I was introduced to aviation at the age of 15, and from that point I was hooked. So for me -- go ahead.
M. O'BRIEN: So you're just -- you discovered something you really love then, huh?
IRVING: Exactly. Exactly. Unknowingly, and it's so funny because I only live five minutes away from an airport, and never would I imagine that I'd be embarking on this flight with Experience Aviation, through the organization we built to get kids involved in aviation.
M. O'BRIEN: I'd like to ask the photographer, if he or she could, to pull back a little bit, just so they can see the size of the airplane there. This is a small, four-seat single-engine airplane going over a vast distance. Pull back a little bit there so we could see, if you could. There you go. This is not for the faint of heart, folks, to do what Barrington wants to do, get in a little plane like this and fly those distances. Doesn't have -- the typical airplane like this doesn't have the range to get across the large ocean stretches. And while you're talking and explaining how you're going to pull this off, Barrington, we're going to be showing the route you're going to be taking. What's your biggest concern?
IRVING: I would say my biggest concern is weather. You have to become your own meteorologist. You have to utilize technology to your advantage, and you have to communicate with all your teams. Mine, Executive Aviation, Universal Weather, Continental Motors, Sky Connect. You have to communicate with everyone. Microsoft, with all the tracking and the students, and NASA. the weather is one of the biggest keys, also preparation and keeping focused, not getting all caught up in the media hype and everything.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes, and it's important to mention all your sponsors, as you just did. We're proud of you for taking through that list. Let me ask you this — what do you think will be the scariest part of it? Those long stretches over water, I'm about to go do some flying over water myself, and it always makes me nervous in a single- engine airplane. I get a raft. I get life jackets, and flares and all of that stuff. Are you nervous about it?
IRVING: No, no, I'm not. And the reason why, because I did survival training with Survival Systems, and in-depth training. They took us out to the North Atlantic, did quite a bit of training, and, you know, you just prepare and prepare, and I've done a lot of flights over water, so, for me, it's an extreme blessing and extreme opportunity to impact as many kids as possible.
M. O'BRIEN: Barrington Irving, have a safe and long flight, and we'll be watching your blog along the way. Google him on the Web, Barrington Irvin, and follow him. He'll be providing dispatchers, and we'll check in with you when you come back, OK, Barrington. And have a safe flight.
IRVING: Also I want everyone to know they can track the flight on experienceaviation.org
M. O'BRIEN: There you go. That was one plug you missed. I'm glad you got it in. Thank you, Barrington Irvin. Fly safe. As they say in the pilot biz, blue side up -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: He's very smooth with getting in all the people that are helping him pay those bills. Good for him. Good for him. [+][+]