27 October 2017
The goal was ambitious. Public interest was high. Experts were eager to contribute. Money was readily available. Samuel Pierpont Langley was prepared for success when he set out in the early 1900s to be the first man to pilot an aeroplane. He was a senior officer at the Smithsonian Institute, a Mathematics Professor and he had worked at Harvard. His friends included Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell. Langley was even given a $50,000 grant from the War Department. He pulled together the best minds of the day, a dream team of intellect and experience. Langley and his team used the best materials and he had the New York Times follow him around everywhere. His goal was to be the first person to achieve machine-powered, controlled, manned flight. People all over the country were fascinated by the story, waiting to read that he had achieved his goal. His success was pretty much guaranteed.
Approximately 500km away, Wilbur and Orville Wright were working on their own flying machine. They had passion to fly and it inspired and enthused others around them. They had no funding. Their only money came from a small bicycle shop. No government grants. No high level connections. Not a single person on their team had a college education, not even Wilbur or Orville. The team came together with a united vision. On 17 December 1903, a small group witnessed a man take flight for the first time in history. The Wright brothers weren’t the favourites in the race to take the first manned flight, yet in doing so, they completely changed the world we live in now. They probably had a recipe for failure rather than success. They had a dream, though, and they believed that if they could work it out, it would impact the world and it would benefit others. They failed over and over. When they went out for a test flight they’d take five sets of spare parts because they knew they were likely to fail that many times before coming home for the day, but they didn’t give up. The successful flight only lasted fifty-nine seconds at an altitude of about 36 metres at the speed of a jog, yet it was the beginning of flight that would change the world, and it went pretty much unnoticed.
Langley had a clear and bold goal and he had a passion for aeronautics. He wanted to be the first and to become rich and famous, that was his driving motivation. A few days after the Wright brothers took flight, Langley quit. He had the opportunity to improve upon the Wright brothers’ design, but he chose to give up.
I believe in giving our children every chance for success, resourcing them and giving them the best opportunity to learn. I also believe we need to invest in them as individuals and help them discover their purpose so they can learn and discover, and they can have a positive impact on those around them.
“I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfil His purpose in me.” Psalms 57:2
Leading Learning Team