Again, the example of the Wright Brothers provides a marvellous educational example that can be easily applied to anyone’s personal situation. Don’t underestimate this analogy. It is simple, accurate, and of incredible value to anyone who genuinely wants to connect to reality.
The Wright example of designing a mental vaccination was used earlier but another earlier aspect of their adventure with Life was how they moved from herd supported error to bedrock reality in their quest for manned flight. Breaking free from herd error, while others remained trapped, was central to their ultimate creative success at being the first to ‘fly’.
When you are admittedly ignorant and those around you don’t seem to have their finger on the actual success formula either, how do you ‘learn how to fly?’
The Wright Brothers, especially Wilbur, became interested in human flight in part due to having been given a flying toy as children and perhaps due to a book by a forward thinking Frenchman named Louis Pierre Mouillard. In Mouillard’s book, he states “If there be a domineering, tyrant thought, it is the conception that the problem of flight may be solved by man. When once this idea has invaded the brain it possesses it exclusively. It is then a haunting thought, a walking nightmare, impossible to cast off. O blind humanity, open thine eyes and thou shalt see millions of birds and myriads of insects cleaving the atmosphere. All these creatures are whirling through the air without the slightest float; many of them are gliding therein, without losing height hour after hour on pulseless wings without fatigue; and after beholding this demonstration, given by the Source of all knowledge, thou wilt acknowledge that aviation is the path to be followed.”
Wilbur, in particular, was impressed by Mouillard’s inspirational writing and circumstances of family background, geographic location, personality and skills, and experience favored his efforts at developing manned flight.
Wilbur lived in an environment where most flight enthusiasts believed that engine power and a stable air frame were the formula for heavier than air flight. The aerial performance star to that point in time was a German engineer named Otto Lilienthal. Lilienthal was looked up to by anyone who had an interest in human flight, and for good reason. Otto wrote a book in 1889 entitled ‘Birdflight as the Basis for Aviation’. He began testing gliders in 1891 and by 1898 he had spent 5 hrs in the air, made 2000 flights, and had glided a record 820 feet in a single flight. He was active in testing and research and published extensive data on flight design principles. Unfortunately, at age 48, he crashed from 50 feet of altitude and died shortly after due to a broken back. The Wright brothers eventually figured out what had happened and were able to avoid the same design error that terminated the efforts of their initial guide.
As a younger person, prior to the horrors of Freon 12 and tetra-ethyl lead being headlined, I found biographies of Charles Kettering and Thomas Midgley very inspiring. During their lifetimes, they were capable men with many outstanding positive traits. But the total story of their lives as well as that of the aftermath, is doubly educational. No one seems to hold all the cards even if they hold many cards, and these 'winner/losers' illustrate the fact.
The story of Clair Patterson, who appreciated the damage being caused by tetra-ethyl lead fuel additives is remarkable. He was a true scientist and a brilliant scientist but he was fighting dollar giants and mass habit. It is shocking how his service to humanity seemed to rank him as a chronic villain who never seemed to get much appreciation for his obvious positive efforts. (You appear to be correct but we are not happy about it. You saved us from destruction but we aren't happy about the inconvenience involved.)
'The Jungle' reference to 'pay cheque blindness' is a factor that was in effect in past and there is no reason to think that anything has changed. And the bigger the blinding payroll and the bigger the biased herd, each member of which is on blinding payroll, the more momentum exists to resist reality - when reality suggests strongly that there is a problem that needs to be confronted.
Clair Patterson went to
the ends of the earth to
verify that tetra-ethyl
lead was causing
Otto was a brilliant man and he pushed manned flight ahead in a significant way. His success also created an aura of competence that created a roadblock to future progress. He wasn't as smart as the herd believed! In hindsight, his tragic death was a hint that he didn't have all the answers. The Wright brothers may well have survived due to the impact that Otto's death had on them. They practiced flying on sand and away from obstacles like trees and they stayed close to the ground until they were confident they knew the tricks of the invisible air.
Back into the flow;
Wilbur Wright was convinced that control was far more important than power and Lilienthal’s work, especially the control aspects, impressed him. In the summer of 1901, the Wright brothers tested gliders that were designed with the belief that Lilienthal’s data was tested and correct. But actual results in the field with their Lilienthal influenced glider design were discouraging.
They closed camp on August 20, sooner than they had intended, and returned to Dayton. On the train ride home, a discouraged Wilbur told his brother that he thought it would be a thousand years before man ever learned to fly! But back home, reflecting on the summer’s experiments, the Wrights began to doubt the accuracy of calculations made by previous aeronautical investigators, particularly Lilienthal’s air pressure tables. Having set out with absolute faith in existing scientific data, and driven to doubt one thing after another, they finally cast it all aside. Now they would rely entirely upon their two years of experiment.
In the fall of 1901, Wilbur addressed a meeting of aviation enthusiasts and stated – “if you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds; but if you really wish to learn, you must mount a machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial.” Sept 18, 1901
Although overshadowed by the triumphs of the flying experiments at Kill Devil Hills, the tedious, systematic laboratory work performed by the Wrights during the winter of 1901 was a turning point in the history of human flight. With this new knowledge of aerodynamics, Wilbur and Orville confidently looked forward to a return to North Carolina and the testing of their data in actual gliding.
(Some of the exact statements and support for the points being made come from the Wright diary based book, Wind and Sand, by Lynanne Wescott and Paula Degen. Some comments are by Oliver Jensen who wrote the forward for Wind and Sand. Other points come from the book, One Day at Kitty Hawk, by John Evangelist Walsh.)
I do not intend to take dangerous chances, both because I do not wish to get hurt and because a fall would stop my experimenting, which I would not like at all. The man who wishes to keep at the problem long enough to really learn anything, positively must not take dangerous risks. Carelessness and overconfidence are usually more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks. – Wilbur Wright - Sept 23, 1903
1904 summary by Wilbur commenting on development work carried out at Huffman Pasture just outside Dayton, Ohio; During all the flights we had made up to this time we had kept close to the ground, in order that, in case we met any new and mysterious phenomenon we could make a safe landing. With only one life to spend we did not consider it advisable to attempt to explore mysteries at such great height from the ground that a fall would put an end to our investigations and leave the mystery unsolved.
During the time period when the Wrights were sincerely and effectively digging for true bedrock in their field of endeavor, they were not alone in pursuing the goal of achieving human ‘heavier than air’ flight. In hind sight, the Wrights appeared to have focused on results vs other efforts tilting towards impatient attention grabbing grandstanding. While others managed to secure considerable financial backing, the Wrights self financed on a shoe-string budget. They were out to learn about a mysterious reality, not to impress others with half baked blather.
Back into the flow:
Samuel Pierpont Langley was a well known American astronomer and physicist and was also the secretary of the prestigious Smithsonian Institution. He had built several unmanned model aircraft, one of which had delivered a flight of close to a mile. Langley had visited Lilienthal prior to the latter’s death.
Langley, with his reputation and self promotion style, was able to secure major funding from the US War Department as well as from the Smithsonian. His goal was simple – to basically build a missile that would carry a man, fly a distance in a straight line, and crash, hopefully without killing the rider! If that constituted manned flight, he was on the beam. He launched his ‘aerodrome’ off a houseboat on the Potomac River and a water landing was the method of preventing the death of pilot Charles Manly. Flight attempts were made on October 7 and December 6 of 1903. Both were dismal failures but Manly at least managed to survive with the help of a cork life jacket. One reporter described the first ‘flight’ as being ‘like a handful of mortar’. The life jacket and luck allowed Manly to escape the rapid and dramatic crashes.
The major publicity and derision generated by the drama oriented attempts likely helped produce the mindset that allowed the Wrights, who first ‘flew’ on December 17, of 1903 to immunize the media reporters in the Dayton area against the reality virus of ‘seeing and reacting to true manned flight’. As a result the Wrights were able to systematically develop control as well as simple lift off without having their cutting edge ideas stolen by others. The Wrights appreciated that straight line flight was not the challenge but rather the true goal was ‘controlled flight’ that encompassed takeoff, directional control, and safe, non-destructive landing.
As the new world of aviation developed, the Smithsonian Institution had the egotistic nerve to engage in an elaborate venture to try to support the claim that the 1903 ‘aerodrome’ really was the first flight success. It wasn’t until 1942 that the Smithsonian officially admitted that the Wrights were the individuals who were legitimately the first men to ‘fly’. The dispute involved dollars and patents and institutional vanity and business and military pressures and somewhere in the chaos was a sincere effort to distill an accurate vision of physical truth out of erroneous theory.
Some links to examples of where theory and motive clashed with the hard logic of experience and personal honesty!
CO2 is big news currently while Nitros Oxide (N2O) and Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6) haven't caught the media gale, yet, at least. We may have another example of 'One, Two,Three, Blastoff!' If you are looking for global warming performance and woke panic, CO2 is a weakling compared to these other chemical muscle men that are increasingly relevant to the Big System soldiering on! Are the dreams of clean energy realistic? Is the problem one dimensional? Have we built an economic monster with an appetite that is impossible to satisfy indefinitely? Have we been climbing a tree to the moon and are reaching the small upper branches that are about to snap from the load?
Years after the 1903 Aerodrome disasters, Glen Curtis was hired to create a modified version with the intent of showing that Langley actually knew what he was doing and that the Smithsonian folk were really the originators of manned flight, rather than the Wright Brothers.
Samuel Pierpont Langley, an American with considerable reputation, was working on the challenge of manned flight at the same time as the Wright Brothers. His reputation, connections, and financial backing allowed him to secure media attention for his showmanship skills!