The the world's first flying classroom is literally up in the air.
The Inspiration III, built into a Hawker 400XPR business jet, is the brainchild of pilot Barrington Irving -- who holds a Guinness World Record for becoming the youngest person to fly solo around the world.
Irving, now 30, is set to fly Inspiration III around the world. Hundreds of students joined him to see the takeoff this morning from Washington Reagan National Airport.
"I wanted to find a special city to depart from with the flying classroom," Irving said shortly before takeoff.
Irving and his crew plan to bring Inspiration III to all seven continents over the next three school years to teach students about real-life applications of science, technology, engineering and math, as well as history, geography and humanities (STEM+). Their first tour will take nine weeks.
"Our whole mission is to simply inspire kids [and show them] that, you know what, there are educational heroes out there," Irving said. "There are people out there doing amazing things every single day with an education. And we just want these kids to go out and get an education."
Students can also get virtual access to the adventures via online videos and a blog. The jet's electronic portal will also let kids participate in school and at home via computer and mobile device.
"There's millions of kids out there that grew up like me," Irving said. "Poor, from the inner city, don't have the confidence, don't believe in their ability. And this project is about inspiring those kids to become scientists, to become engineers, to become amazing people with an education."
Before the classroom's takeoff Tuesday, 650 students from D.C. and Baltimore attended a STEM+ career fair.
"It's pretty inspiring to me," said local 8th-grader Cyrus McDowell. "I personally don't know what I want to do when I grow up. I'm still looking for that special thing that I want to do."