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Misfit Heroes: A Different Future

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He had a bright future. As a bright student and a star hockey player, he was headed to Yale to become a preacher, but sometimes our best laid plans are not the same as God’s. During his senior year, Wilbur Wright was injured in a hockey game and had to drop out of high school a few months before he would have graduated. Some of us would take an experience like that and let it define our future, but he didn’t let it hold him back.

Wilbur and his brother Orville had always had a mechanical bent. They developed an interest in flight after their father gave them a toy helicopter. The boys played with the toy until it broke, and then used it as a model to build their own. As adults they ran a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, and worked for years fixing not only bicycles, but also printing presses, motors, and all kinds of machinery. Several years after starting their shop they even started manufacturing their own brand. During this time, the brothers’ interest in flight continued to grow, and they were continually inspired by the many who were testing manned flight in other countries, specifically Otto Lillienthal of Germany. 

When Lillienthal died in the crash of his glider, both brothers were extremely affected and started to pursue their interest in flight more seriously. Wilbur took the initiative and requested information on aeronautics from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. He also started to create his own designs and plans for various aircraft. Shortly thereafter, Orville became more involved and from then on the work was a unified effort. Neither brother took full credit for their work, but always shared it equally. 

In 1900, Wilbur and Orville went to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to begin their manned gliding tests. Wilbur had requested weather information from the U.S. Weather Bureau and determined that the location was one of the most favorably suited to perform their experiments.  Over the next several years, the brothers returned to Kitty Hawk to test various gliders. It was only in 1903 that they added power to their machine, calling it the Wright Flyer. 

In December of 1903, after weeks of delays caused by broken parts that were the result of failed engine tests, they brothers were ready to test their flyer with their first powered test flight. Wilbur won the coin toss and made a 3 second flight attempt on December 14, 1903. The engine stalled after takeoff, causing damage to the flyer, but Wilbur still stated, in a letter back home to their family, that it was “partial success”. 

In the years that followed, the Wright brothers continued to work on their invention, changing and improving it. Wilbur continued to be the leader of the operation, speaking to government officials in the U.S. and abroad to persuade them that they had indeed invented a successful flying machine. Skepticism was high, but eventually the brothers ended up with contracts with the U.S. military as well as French companies. 

They continued the development of their airplanes with the funds from their contracts. As a part of their contracts, the brothers had to fly successful public flights with passengers. Orville took over the flights in the U.S. and Wilbur went to Europe. While there, Wilbur demonstrated his incredible flying skills, which were far superior to those of other pilots of the day. 

Throughout the rest of their lives, the brothers stayed consistent in their enthusiasm for pioneering this new method of transportation that would change the course of the world. Wilbur Wright’s early life plans may not have gone as he had hoped, but they went the way they were supposed to go. God used what others viewed as an accident to help Wilbur Wright accomplish one of the greatest achievements ever in the history of the world.

I thought that the message of this song fits with Wilbur Wright’s life. Watch it and let me know what you think!

 

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