I often think of the powerful words Milton shouted into the wind on May 25th, and I want those words to reverberate in my own head.
Milton was 82 years old at the time, but I’m certain he yelled the words in a strong unwavering voice. A voice which carried the emotional mixture of joy, pride, wonder and awe. And probably some fear, and a bit of disbelief.
He shouted to be heard above the noise from the wind and the loud 12 hp internal combustion engine straining right next to him. But mainly he shouted because of the pure exhilaration coursing through his being.
Milton Wright was the father of Orville and Wilbur, the famed American inventors and aviation pioneers that built, tested and flew the first controlled “heavier-than-air flying machine” in 1903.
It was just several years later in 1910, that Milton shouted out the stirring words during the one and only time he ever flew.
If you get the chance, you should visit North Carolina and walk the grounds at Kitty Hawk. It’s where the brothers spent month after month, year after year. Assembling, testing, crashing, repairing. Making slow incremental progress. Before doing more assembling, testing, crashing, repairing.
It was there at Kitty Hawk in 1903 where the brothers first flew, and where we grew wings. Added the 3rd dimension to our world. It’s hallowed ground.
Early flight was dangerous pioneering work and Milton had made his sons promise to never fly together. He couldn’t imagine losing them both during a flight crash.
Over the subsequent decades, aeronautical engineers and historians have thoroughly studied and chronicled what the Wright brothers did to succeed. Searching “Wright brothers” on Amazon yields 1,628 books.
But, when considering what contributed to the success of these bicycle mechanics and self-taught engineers, both of whom didn’t even graduate high school, it’s also important to consider what they decided not to do.
Here are the 4 things they didn’t do:
1) Obsess over milestones
Their intent was to fly. But they had no real idea how long it’d take to work their way through the innumerable challenges.
For one thing, they calculated they’d need a minimum of eight horsepower from an engine that weighed less than 200 pounds. There was no such engine available at the time. So the brothers set about building one. Not to mention the other innumerable obstacles involved with creating a lightweight wood and cloth structure that would withstand the forces encountered while flying; or how to alter the shape of the wing surfaces so their flight could be controlled.
The only thing greater than the unanswered questions and problems, was their commitment to get it all figured out.
What they didn’t have was an unrealistic schedule.