ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 30, 2012) – Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) executives joined Barrington Irving today at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention in Orlando to launch Classroom in the Sky, an initiative of his 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Experience Aviation. HBC will serve as title sponsor for Classroom in the Sky by providing a Hawker 400XPR for the duration of the around-the-world mission to transform an airplane into a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching tool for youth.
“Sponsoring Barrington’s Classroom in the Sky initiative is a natural fit for Hawker Beechcraft: we provide an aircraft that showcases its ability to meet his rigorous mission requirements anywhere in the world and we help highlight the importance of STEM education in creating a strong future for aviation and other industries,” said Shawn Vick, HBC’s executive vice president, Customers.
“There’s no better platform for Barrington than the Hawker 400XPR, the light jet that leads its market segment in design, performance, reliability and support. It is the perfect classroom for real-life lessons in cutting-edge propulsion systems and aerodynamics, along with the latest in avionics technologies.”
Irving, who at the age of 23 became the youngest person and first black pilot to fly solo around the world, founded Experience Aviation in 2005 to build STEM skills in students and direct them toward careers in aviation and other STEM-related fields. The 28-year-old plans to launch the Classroom in the Sky expedition in October 2013 at NBAA and circle the globe in the Hawker 400XPR.
“Transforming a light jet into the world’s first flying classroom would remain a dream of mine without the generous support of Hawker Beechcraft,” Irving said. “Not only will the Hawker 400XPR provide the transportation for my mission to span the globe, it will play a lead role in highlighting advances in technology, engineering and science along with lessons in math, geography, culture, history and so much more.”
Born in Jamaica and raised in Miami’s inner city, Irving said a chance encounter at age 15 with a Jamaican-born professional pilot opened his eyes to careers beyond sports. The man invited Irving to tour the cockpit of an airliner, and that was all he needed to get hooked on aviation.
“There are probably millions of kids out there like me who find science and exploration amazing, but lack the confidence or opportunity to take the next step,” he said. “I'll be able to teach millions of students worldwide from 45,000 feet and continue the education when I land at different destinations on all seven continents. To give you an example, I will fly to Tanzania. I’ll attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as students virtually guide my path and help me solve math and science challenges along the way. In addition, we will highlight the environmental challenges of trash on Kilimanjaro and green initiatives students can conduct in their own communities.”
Among Barrington’s many accolades is a 2007 Congressional Resolution acknowledging his historic achievement and his pioneering work in the field of aviation education. In addition, he was recently named National Geographic’s 2012 Emerging Explorer. For more information about Barrington Irving and his other Classroom in the Sky educational initiatives, visit www.experienceaviation.org.
Hawker Beechcraft’s Hawker 400XPR upgrade package offers major airframe modifications for existing Hawker/Beechjet 400 owners as well as XPR Factory Completed Aircraft for those who do not currently own an aircraft. The Hawker 400XPR offers greatly improved range and airfield performance, while reducing noise footprint and emissions by replacing the existing engines with new, more fuel-efficient Williams International FJ44-4A-32 dual FADEC high-bypass turbofans. The upgrade also features the addition of Genuine Hawker winglets and an optional modernized flight deck with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics. The enhancements are the exclusive factory-designed, engineered and supported upgrades available for the Hawker/Beechjet 400.
Hawker Beechcraft Corporation is a world-leading manufacturer of business, special mission, light attack and trainer aircraft – designing, marketing and supporting aviation products and services for businesses, governments and individuals worldwide. The company’s headquarters and major facilities are located in Wichita, Kan., with operations in Little Rock, Ark.; Chester, England, U.K.; and Chihuahua, Mexico. The company leads the industry with a global network of more than 100 factory-owned and authorized service centers. For more information, visit www.hawkerbeechcraft.com.