Joe Raedle  /  Getty Images
Barrington Irving greets supporters before leaving Friday from Opa-Lokca, Fla., on a planned around-the-world trip.
updated 3/25/2007 8:47:32 PM ET 2007-03-26T00:47:32

A 23-year-old aerospace student who built his plane from more than $300,000 in donated parts took off Friday hoping to become the youngest person and first black pilot to fly around the globe alone.

Barrington Irving plans to arrive back at Opa-locka Executive Airport on April 30 in his single-engine Lancair Columbia 400.

He had planned to fly last year, but a lack of funding delayed his $1 million project. He still needs about $20,000, but that didn't stop him from setting out.

"I want this completed before the year is over so kids can see that someone who started off with nothing set a goal and completed it," he said just before takeoff. "Even with the challenges, everything is starting to fall in place. It's just my time."

Irving was born in Jamaica and grew up in Miami. He said he saw little chance for success until he met a Jamaican-American pilot at his parents' Christian bookstore.

The pilot, Gary Robinson, took Irving to see a Boeing 777. The 15-year-old was mesmerized. He turned down college football scholarships to become a pilot.

Irving is now studying at Florida Memorial University; he has private and commercial pilot licenses. He also founded Experience Aviation, a Miami-based organization that encourages minority youths to pursue aviation careers.

He will make stops in Cleveland and Farmingdale, N.Y., before passing into Canada, then crossing the Atlantic, through Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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