Two Brothers Who Changed the World - Sunday, July 26, 2015
In 1897, the Washington Post boldly announced, “It is a fact that man can’t fly.” Apparently, someone forgot to tell that to Wilbur and Orville Wright.
In 1900, Wilbur glided 300 feet over the dunes of Kitty Hawk on North Carolina’s Outer Banks in a glider he and his brother had designed. Three years and many attempts later, Orville flew in a powered plane for 12 seconds. It wasn’t long before they were in the air flying for miles, and the Wright brothers had become the unlikely inventors of the world’s first successful aircraft.
Wilbur and Orville were talented mechanics who owned a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, and they funded their efforts with its proceeds. They “had no college education, no formal technical training, no experience working with anyone other than themselves, no friends in high places, no financial backers, no government subsidies, and little money of their own.” But they knew how to work, they worked well together, and they were comfortable making slow and steady progress. And because of that, they changed the world.
In honoring their accomplishment, it’s easy to forget the hundreds of failures that preceded it. In fact, it was those failures that made human flight possible, because they inspired Wilbur and Orville to rethink, tinker, and rebuild their flying machines. The work wasn’t glamorous. On their ventures to Kitty Hawk they slept in tents and faced mosquito infestations, hurricanes, and blistering heat. They worked in quiet seclusion, and even their successes were ignored by the press at first.
Their story holds some valuable lessons for anyone who dreams, who faces challenges, or who labors at worthwhile work that seems difficult or even impossible. First of all, don’t be disheartened by those who say it cannot be done; most of life’s meaningful achievements come as a great surprise to the doubtful. And don’t be discouraged when defeats and failures start piling up; quite often it is the adverse wind that gives us just the right amount of lift we need. Or, to use the eloquent words of Wilbur Wright, “No bird soars in a calm.”
Dec. 24, 1897, quoted in David McCullough, The Wright Brothers (2015), 34.
McCullough, Wright Brothers, 34–35.
Wilbur Wright notebook, Sept.–Oct. 1900, Wright Papers, Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress, quoted in McCullough, Wright Brothers, epigraph.
July 26, 2015
Broadcast Number 4,480
Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
Let There Be Light
Gilbert M. Martin
For the Beauty of the Earth
Conrad Kocher; arr. Mack Wilberg
Edvard Grieg; arr. Robert Hebble
How Excellent Thy Name, from Saul
George Frideric Handel
The Impossible Dream, from Man of La Mancha
Mitch Leigh; arr. Arthur Harris
O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
Albert L. Peace; arr. Ryan Murphy