Pilot soars into Elkin to educate students


By Wendy Byerly Wood - wbyerly-wood@elkintribune.com



Capt. Barrington Irving performs a fly-by in his plane Friday morning as The Flying Classroom comes to Elkin Airport.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students video Capt. Barrington Irving bringing his plane in for a landing Friday morning at the Elkin Airport.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students video Capt. Barrington Irving bringing his plane in for a landing Friday morning at the Elkin Airport.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving helps Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox off of his plane after she rode in with The Flying Classroom Friday morning.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving smiles as he exits his plane at the Elkin Airport Friday morning for The Flying Classroom.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Riding with Capt. Barrington Irving for the arrival of The Flying Classroom are Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox, right.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving greets Elkin Mayor Sam Bishop Friday at the arrival of The Flying Classroom as Elkin City Schools Board of Education Chairman Richard Brinegar and Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox look on at the Elkin Airport.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving visits with Molly Smith and Jewel Brown at the arrival of The Flying Classroom Friday at the Elkin Airport as Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox looks on.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story and why STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) are important.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving greets Elkin Middle School students as he begins his presentation Friday morning at Elkin Airport’s hangar.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving introduces Elkin Middle School students to the pilot, Capt. Gary Robinson, who inspired him to choose aviation over football as a career.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story with students of Elkin Middle School at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story with students of Elkin Middle School at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

An Elkin Middle School student points out a camouflaged poisonous snake in a photo from one of Capt. Barrington Irving’s excursions.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

A paper helicopter is launched at the tail of Capt. Barrington Irving’s plane by an Elkin Middle School student.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story with Elkin Middle School students Friday.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

An Elkin Middle School student eagerly awaits asking Capt. Barrington Irving a question Friday.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving is presented with a huge card and an Elkin schools shirt by students from Elkin Middle School Friday during The Flying Classroom.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Jason Raines, a crew with The Flying Classroom, leads Elkin Middle School students in hands-on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) during The Flying Classroom Friday at the Elkin Airport hangar.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Jason Raines, a crew with The Flying Classroom, leads Elkin Middle School students in hands-on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) during The Flying Classroom Friday at the Elkin Airport hangar.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

A hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

A hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.


Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

A unique learning experience flew into the Elkin Airport Friday morning as Capt. Barrington Irving brought The Flying Classroom to Elkin City Schools students, greeted at the hangar by Elkin Middle School students, staff and community leaders.

As middle-schoolers lined the concrete pad between the airport and the runway, Irving came soaring over the students at a tilt, and then circled back around for another flyover before landing. With him on the flight was Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox, who was invited to ride with Irving Thursday night during supper.

Irving, the youngest person and the first black pilot to fly around the world solo, in just a single-engine plane, now shares his story of becoming an aviator instead of a professional football player with young people through the partnership of his program, The Flying Classroom, with Scholastic.

“So we’re going to take you guys around the world and talk a little bit about STEAM. Elkin City Schools is about Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math,” said Irving as he opened his program with the middle-schoolers in the hangar at the local airport.

As he asked students how many sit in class and say, “When am I ever going to use this in life? Why does this matter?,” hands of most all students raised in the air. Then he admitted, he asked the same questions as he was growing up.

The Jamaican-born Floridian shared his story of growing up poor in Miami and playing football for Miami Northwestern Senior High School, which was at the time the best high school team in the nation, as a full back and linebacker. At 197 pounds, ran a 4-3 in a 40 with an 18 1/2 inch neck, “football was everything to me, and that’s all I cared about,” Irving admitted.

That was until he was at a store and he sees a man step out of a white Lincoln Navigator dressed in a pilot’s uniform, “I said to myself, ‘Man, this brother looks like he makes a lot of money,’” he said.

The pilot, Capt. Gary Robinson, asks him if he’d ever thought of becoming a pilot. Irving’s first question was how much Robinson made … $117 an hour. “When he told me that, I took an interest in aviation right then and there. I said I’m not sure I’m smart enough to fly, but I’m interested,” Irving said of his reaction.

He turned down his football scholarship to the University of Florida, and he went on to pursue aviation. He couldn’t find a major sponsor to fund his goal of flying around the world, and instead he started going to parts dealers to get airplane parts donated.

His first plane cost $650,000. He compared playing with LEGOS to his goal of piecing the plane together.

At age 23, Irving spent 10 to 12 hours sitting in the same position with 27 stops in 13 countries on his 97-day trip around the world. Since his initial flight, Irving has been on many excursions and has traveled to every continent except Antarctica, visiting more than 60 countries.

Irving went on to share facts and information from his research trips he’s piloted and led around the world, from learning about poisonous snakes whose venom is extracted and used for life-saving medications, to sponsoring a middle-school program that built a car that goes 0-60 mph in 2.7 to 2.9 seconds, to doing a project where he spent 48 hours eating out of dumpsters in San Francisco to highlight how much good food is wasted every day, to high-altitude jumping from more than 30,000 feet with oxygen tanks, to getting a close-up look at Nike’s future where people will be able 3D print a brand new pair of shoes at home, to regenerating coral reefs where fishermen have used dynamite to fish and damaged the reefs, to swallowing a camera pill so students can see an inside view of an intestine.

After sharing his excursions, Irving’s crew member Jason Raines, STEM+ academic and professional learning coordinator, led the middle-schoolers in a couple of flight-oriented, hands-on STEM projects. The first was teaching the students how their own hands provide the power for propellers on sticks as the students paired up and spread out inside and outside the hangar to try out their skills.

After seeing how a remote-control helicopter works, each of the students received a piece of paper with a design on it to color and cut out, two pieces of wood, tape, a rubber band, propeller and hook. They proceeded to color, cut out and assemble their own paper helicopters and then test them out, with some of them flying more than 30 and 40 feet in the air.

After the program at the airport, Irving went on to visit with the elementary and high school students during the afternoon.

Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

Capt. Barrington Irving performs a fly-by in his plane Friday morning as The Flying Classroom comes to Elkin Airport.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1245.jpgCapt. Barrington Irving performs a fly-by in his plane Friday morning as The Flying Classroom comes to Elkin Airport.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students video Capt. Barrington Irving bringing his plane in for a landing Friday morning at the Elkin Airport.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1249.jpgElkin Middle School students video Capt. Barrington Irving bringing his plane in for a landing Friday morning at the Elkin Airport.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students video Capt. Barrington Irving bringing his plane in for a landing Friday morning at the Elkin Airport.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1253.jpgElkin Middle School students video Capt. Barrington Irving bringing his plane in for a landing Friday morning at the Elkin Airport. Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving helps Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox off of his plane after she rode in with The Flying Classroom Friday morning.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1268.jpgCapt. Barrington Irving helps Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox off of his plane after she rode in with The Flying Classroom Friday morning.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving smiles as he exits his plane at the Elkin Airport Friday morning for The Flying Classroom.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1273.jpgCapt. Barrington Irving smiles as he exits his plane at the Elkin Airport Friday morning for The Flying Classroom.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Riding with Capt. Barrington Irving for the arrival of The Flying Classroom are Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox, right.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1278.jpgRiding with Capt. Barrington Irving for the arrival of The Flying Classroom are Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox, right.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving greets Elkin Mayor Sam Bishop Friday at the arrival of The Flying Classroom as Elkin City Schools Board of Education Chairman Richard Brinegar and Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox look on at the Elkin Airport.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1286.jpgCapt. Barrington Irving greets Elkin Mayor Sam Bishop Friday at the arrival of The Flying Classroom as Elkin City Schools Board of Education Chairman Richard Brinegar and Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox look on at the Elkin Airport.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving visits with Molly Smith and Jewel Brown at the arrival of The Flying Classroom Friday at the Elkin Airport as Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox looks on.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1289.jpgCapt. Barrington Irving visits with Molly Smith and Jewel Brown at the arrival of The Flying Classroom Friday at the Elkin Airport as Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox looks on. Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story and why STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) are important.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1358.jpgElkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story and why STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) are important.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving greets Elkin Middle School students as he begins his presentation Friday morning at Elkin Airport’s hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1292.jpgCapt. Barrington Irving greets Elkin Middle School students as he begins his presentation Friday morning at Elkin Airport’s hangar. Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving introduces Elkin Middle School students to the pilot, Capt. Gary Robinson, who inspired him to choose aviation over football as a career.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1314.jpgCapt. Barrington Irving introduces Elkin Middle School students to the pilot, Capt. Gary Robinson, who inspired him to choose aviation over football as a career.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story with students of Elkin Middle School at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1320.jpgCapt. Barrington Irving shares his story with students of Elkin Middle School at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story with students of Elkin Middle School at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1329.jpgCapt. Barrington Irving shares his story with students of Elkin Middle School at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1340.jpgElkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

An Elkin Middle School student points out a camouflaged poisonous snake in a photo from one of Capt. Barrington Irving’s excursions.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1356.jpgAn Elkin Middle School student points out a camouflaged poisonous snake in a photo from one of Capt. Barrington Irving’s excursions. Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

A paper helicopter is launched at the tail of Capt. Barrington Irving’s plane by an Elkin Middle School student.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1519.jpgA paper helicopter is launched at the tail of Capt. Barrington Irving’s plane by an Elkin Middle School student. Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1359.jpgElkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1362.jpgElkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1363.jpgElkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1364.jpgElkin Middle School students listen as Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story at the Elkin Airport hangar Friday.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving shares his story with Elkin Middle School students Friday.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1371.jpgCapt. Barrington Irving shares his story with Elkin Middle School students Friday.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

An Elkin Middle School student eagerly awaits asking Capt. Barrington Irving a question Friday.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1381.jpgAn Elkin Middle School student eagerly awaits asking Capt. Barrington Irving a question Friday.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Capt. Barrington Irving is presented with a huge card and an Elkin schools shirt by students from Elkin Middle School Friday during The Flying Classroom.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1385.jpgCapt. Barrington Irving is presented with a huge card and an Elkin schools shirt by students from Elkin Middle School Friday during The Flying Classroom. Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Jason Raines, a crew with The Flying Classroom, leads Elkin Middle School students in hands-on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) during The Flying Classroom Friday at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1402.jpgJason Raines, a crew with The Flying Classroom, leads Elkin Middle School students in hands-on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) during The Flying Classroom Friday at the Elkin Airport hangar.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Jason Raines, a crew with The Flying Classroom, leads Elkin Middle School students in hands-on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) during The Flying Classroom Friday at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1405.jpgJason Raines, a crew with The Flying Classroom, leads Elkin Middle School students in hands-on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) during The Flying Classroom Friday at the Elkin Airport hangar. Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

A hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1410.jpgA hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar. Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

A hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1415.jpgA hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

A hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1417.jpgA hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

A hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1424.jpgA hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

A hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1431.jpgA hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar. Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

A hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1435.jpgA hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

A hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1437.jpgA hand-powered propeller is launched by an Elkin Middle School student Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

*****, a student at Elkin Middle School, flies a remote-control helicopter Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1454.jpg*****, a student at Elkin Middle School, flies a remote-control helicopter Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar. Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

*****, a student at Elkin Middle School, flies a remote-control helicopter Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1455.jpg*****, a student at Elkin Middle School, flies a remote-control helicopter Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1470.jpgWendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students color and design the bodies for their paper rubberband-powered helicopters Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1478.jpgElkin Middle School students color and design the bodies for their paper rubberband-powered helicopters Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students color and design the bodies for their paper rubberband-powered helicopters Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1484.jpgElkin Middle School students color and design the bodies for their paper rubberband-powered helicopters Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students color and design the bodies for their paper rubberband-powered helicopters Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1486.jpgElkin Middle School students color and design the bodies for their paper rubberband-powered helicopters Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students fly paper rubberband-powered helicopters Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1508.jpgElkin Middle School students fly paper rubberband-powered helicopters Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students fly paper rubberband-powered helicopters Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1510.jpgElkin Middle School students fly paper rubberband-powered helicopters Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar. Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin Middle School students fly paper rubberband-powered helicopters Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.
http://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_DSC_1516.jpgElkin Middle School students fly paper rubberband-powered helicopters Friday during The Flying Classroom at the Elkin Airport hangar.Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

By Wendy Byerly Wood

wbyerly-wood@elkintribune.com

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