I was surprised a while back to read that the Wright Brothers’ contribution to flight was regarded as ‘meager.’ So after reading two biographies about the Wright Brothers, what did I learn?
The Wright Brothers built a wind tunnel to determine optimal wing design. They learned how to control aircraft by practicing on kites and gliders for months. Finding no engine available for their purposes, they built their own engine. They determined the optimal design for propellors. And then there’s their patent on wing warping.
So they designed the wings, propellors, control systems, and engines. That doesn’t sound meager to me. That sounds like just about everything to do with an airplane.
Attacking the Wrights is not new. I’ve found two stories of ‘secret airplanes’ that supposedly beat the Wrights into the air. I call them ‘secret’ because there are no photographs, no witnesses, no plans, no remnants. Yet here we are, a hundred years later, and the stories are still given credence.
But what’s the big deal with the Wrights anyhow?
Well, if you’re a bright young person, then you need to know the truth path to success. Either the Wrights are an example, or they’re not. If you try to slap together a ‘secret airplane,’ you’ll find it doesn’t work, and then you’ll give up, discouraged. If you realize that any great achievement may require a lot of intermediate steps and attendant effort, and then you go ahead and do it all, then you too can go far.
I don’t know if the journey is the reward, but I do know that without the journey, you don’t get there.