This has been a wonderful week where I delivered my Mental Resilience Masterclass to key staff at Radius Payments in Crewe on behalf of Live and Learn and what a great group they were. The interaction and energy were excellent as was the feedback.
Then later in the week I delivered a session to the members of the Peer2Peer Board led by Steve Knowles in Sheffield. This was a great experience and again excellent interaction and feedback.
An event which changed the world
It was 12 seconds that would change the world forever. On the cold, windy morning of December 17, 1903, on the sandy dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, a small handful of men gathered around a homemade mechanical contraption of wood and fabric.
They were there to witness the culmination of years of study, trial and error, sweat and sacrifice made by two humble, modest men from Dayton, Ohio.
That day, the Wright Brothers’ dreams of flight would come to fruition, as Orville Wright took to the sky for 12 bumpy seconds.
“I like to think about that first airplane, the way it sailed off in the air as pretty as any bird you ever laid your eyes on. I don’t think I ever saw a prettier sight in my life,” eye-witness John T. Daniels later recalled.
Daniels was in awe of Orville and his older brother, Wilbur, who he called “the workingest boys” he ever met in his life. For these two thoughtful bachelor brothers, their years of low-key, methodical research had finally paid off. Always cautious, Orville was shocked at “our audacity in attempting flights in a new and untried machine under such circumstances.”
A toy helicopter changed everything
Wilbur was born in 1867, and Orville followed in 1871. When the brothers were youngsters in 1878, their father returned home one evening with a gift that he tossed into the air. “Instead of falling to the floor, as we expected,” the brothers recalled in a 1908 magazine article, “it flew across the room till it struck the ceiling, where it fluttered awhile, and finally sank to the floor.”
The model helicopter made of cork, bamboo and paper and powered by a rubber band mesmerized the boys and sparked their passion for aviation.
He believed that one day they would do this crazy thing
“Orville’s first teacher in grade school, Ida Palmer, would remember him at his desk tinkering with bits of wood,” McCullough writes in The Wright Brothers. “Asked what he was up to, he told her he was making a machine of a kind that he and his brother were going to fly someday.”
While Orville was recovering from typhoid fever, they rediscovered their childhood obsession with flight
1896 would prove to be a turning point for the entire Wright family. That year, Orville was struck with typhoid fever. Wilbur rarely left Orville’s side, and while nursing his younger brother, he began to read up on the tragic aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal, who had died during one of his experiments.
Soon Wilbur was rediscovering his childhood obsession with flight, and as Orville convalesced, he began to read up on gliders and flight theory as well. The brothers became avid bird watchers, studying how they flew.
“Learning the secret of flight from a bird was a good deal like learning the secret of magic from a magician,” Orville would later say.
Orville described the 12-second first flight as ‘extremely erratic’
By 1903, the brothers were confident that they could build a Flyer that included an engine and solicited mechanic Charlie Taylor, who ran the bike shop for them in Dayton, to build the light-weight engine. Throughout the year, they built their new improved flying machine.
In the fall, they decamped for Kitty Hawk once again, ready to make the first powered flight in the history of the world. When the plane and conditions were finally ready, the brothers took to the sand dunes, with five locals nervously holding their breath. According to McCullough:
At exactly 10:35, Orville slipped the rope restraining the Flyer and it headed forward, but not very fast, because of the fierce headwind, and Wilbur, his left hand on the wing, had no trouble keeping up.
At the end of the track the Flyer lifted into the air and Daniels, who had never operated a camera until now, snapped the shutter to take what would be one of the most historic photographs of the century. The course of the flight, in Orville’s words, was “extremely erratic.”
The Flyer rose, dipped down, rose again, bounced and dipped again like a bucking bronco when one wing struck the sand. The distance flown had been 120 feet, less than half the length of a football field. The total time airborne was approximately 12 seconds. “Were you scared?” Orville would be asked. “Scared?” he said with a smile. “There wasn’t time.”
Despite making history, the Wrights received very little praise
Amazingly, this historic feat barely registered in the local and national news. Only a few days before the brothers’ successful flight, the $70,000 flying machine built by Samuel P. Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, had crashed in the Potomac River. While Langley’s failure was a sensational, much-covered story, the press-shy brothers’ success was scoffed at, if acknowledged at all.
Back in Dayton, the Wrights continued experimenting with their powered Flyer at Huffman Prairie, 84 secluded acres outside of their hometown. With little fanfare, the brothers became expert flyers, while the media still doubted and ignored their every move.
Instead, the brothers concentrated on the joys of manned flight. “When you know, after the first few minutes, that the whole mechanism is working perfectly, the sensation is so keenly delightful as to be almost beyond description,” Wilbur said. “Nobody who has not experienced it for himself can realize it.
It is a realization of a dream so many persons have had of floating in the air. More than anything else the sensation is one of perfect peace, mingled with the excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost, if you can conceive of such a combination.”
What can we learn from this?
- Self-Belief – The Wright brothers achieved something deemed impossible.
- Reframe Technique – They used the time during the illness to rediscover their obsession with flight. They found the positive in the negative.
- Motivation – They had a passion for what they were doing.
- Positive Mindset – They were doubted by everyone, but they continued regardless.
- Clear Vision – As a child Orville told his teacher that he and his brother would fly one day.
Thoughts for the week
- What can you take from this wonderful story of success?
- Do you have anything in your life which seems impossible?
- This week ignore anyone who says it can’t be done and believe in yourself once again.
- Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and go again.
Well that’s it for this week have a wonderful weekend and keep believing.