Ever since there were the first humans and birds, one looked up from the ground in wonderment and jealousy of the other. Oh to be like a bird……to soar high amongst the clouds quickly yet effortlessly, while soaking in miles upon miles of beauty at a time. From the time they walked upright and out of the caves, humans looked up to the sky with wide eye and open jaw, thinking “wow……I want to do that.”
And they tried, and tried, and tried.
And they failed. And failed, and failed and failed.
Photo Credit: Smithsonian
They researched, they experimented, they competed, and sometimes they collaborated.
They chipped away at the mystery of the birds, more often than not at a pace of progress that very few have the ability to withstand.
Photo Credit: Wright Museum
Humans kept trying to fly and failing for centuries. People tried bicycle planes, tying wings to their arms and backs, jumping off cliffs while flapping frantically, and other wild ideas. They all failed. Many of them died because of it, but the living kept on trying.
They didn’t figure it out, but they kept the dream of flight alive. They were persistent, resilient, brave, and often times more than just a little crazy.
115 years ago today, at Kitty Hawk North Carolina that Orville and Wilbur Wright, two men from Ohio without a high school diploma between them made the first successful human flight. Their main competitor, Samuel Langley, had crashed his “aircraft” into the Potomac river a few days earlier, causing many to give up on the idea. Not the Wright Brothers. They flew about 120 feet in 12 seconds, 20 feet above the ground. Not all that high or fast…….but the door was kicked open. Humans were on the way to join the birds, and beyond.
Photo Credit: Eyewitness To History
11 years later was the first commercial flight. Five years after that we crossed the Atlantic. A half century after that, we landed on the moon.
You know who the real winners were in all of this?
those who live in 2018 and can jump on an airplane and go completely across the country in six hours, across the world in a day. We see great distances now as inconveniences or very solvable problems. If we had been born 100 years earlier, those journeys would have taken us months, if not years. We are the beneficiary of thousands of years of dedication to a cause, innovation, and people with the burning desire to keep going even when they saw only the slightest bits of progress for years at a time.
We often fail to think about how much we benefit from the hard work and determination of others throughout history. This goes not only for travel, but medicine, technology, entertainment, and so on. This is a great time to be alive! Think about it this way, if the all of human existence was one 24 hour day from midnight to midnight, human flight has been around for about one minute. We are living the one minute of the day of history in which we can fly!!!
Human flight should also serve as a reminder to all of us of something we often forget: humankind can pretty much do anything it wants to, if it wants to bad enough. Imagine if we pursued other challenges we face with the same ferocity as those who took us to the skies!
So today we say thank you for the miracle of flight, which was really the miracle of hard work and perseverance. Thank you to the Wright Brothers, but also to all who helped build the ladder to the sky. Thank you to all who took risks, put it herculean efforts, but never got to cash the reward.