Miami-Dade County officials will provide financial support for a new professional and technical training center, headed by a record-breaking pilot, and focused on preparing students for careers in business aviation and other fields. The funding was announced at the 2023 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Miami-Opa locka Regional Forum.
Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners Chairman Oliver G. Gilbert III presented a check for $100,000 for the center to Capt. Barrington Irving, a Guinness World Record-breaking pilot who was both the youngest person and first black pilot to fly solo around the world.
The center, located on the grounds of Miami-Opa locka Executive Airport (OPF), will develop skilled workers from diverse backgrounds needed in the fast-growing business aviation sector. It will help students from the Miami area and around the world develop technical skills that enable them to have careers in aviation, but which are also transferable to fields outside the sector.
Florida is third in the United States when it comes to the total economic impact and jobs generated by the aviation industry. The state is home to more than 200 aviation manufacturing companies.
“This funding from Miami-Dade will help us launch an innovative training program to get more students from a variety of backgrounds into business aviation and other industries where they can achieve their professional dreams,” Irving said. “I am grateful to Miami-Dade County and the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, and the center’s other partners: Atlantic Aviation, Bombardier, Concours Club, NBAA and Signature Flight Support.”
The new center is aptly named the Barrington Irving Technical Training School. The school will offer technical training, where students will earn industry certifications, including prestigious “NC3” certifications that are intended to upskill students faster so they can enter the workforce quickly. The certifications, issued by the National Coalition of Certification Centers, are widely recognized by employers as a gold standard in training and professionalism.
“Our plan is to build demand for the center by attracting those in the local community to an Innovation Lab we are naming in honor of Chairman Oliver Gilbert III,” Irving added.
The center, which will graduate approximately 50 students in its first year, will incorporate tools and resources from NBAA and other industry partners.
“NBAA is proud to be working with Capt. Irving on a critical initiative: producing the talent we need to overcome a shortage of pilots, technicians and other professionals in our industry,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “Barrington is an inspiring leader, and we know that the center will be more than a job-training initiative – it will shape the next generation of visionary leaders who will chart a course for business aviation in the years to come.”
In addition to Gilbert, local officials and U.S. congressional offices in attendance included Ralph Cutie, CEO of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department and executive director of Miami-Opa locka Executive Airport (OPF); Miami-Dade Aviation Department Deputy Director Basil Binns II; Opa-locka Mayor John Taylor, Jr.; Opa-locka Vice Mayor Natasha Ervin; Opa-locka City Manager Darvin Williams; and Opa-locka Commissioner Sherelean Bass; Lea Padron, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s district director and Christine Del Portillo, U.S. Senator Rick Scott’s district director.