I went on vacation this summer, and I had to fly on an airplane. I remember flying for the first time when I was 14 years old. It was certainly exciting, but also quite scary, it’s hard not to think about “what if the plane crashes?” How do those big planes fly anyway? But now it’s probably one of the safest ways to travel. It’s certainly safer than driving in Massachusetts!
Have you ever heard the names Simon Newcomb, George Melville, or Charlie Taylor? Newcomb was a distinguished astronomer and faculty member at Johns Hopkins in the early 1900’s, and Melville was the Chief Engineer of the United States Navy around the same time. Both men were highly accomplished, educated and intelligent, but when it came to humans being able to fly in a “flying machine”, both said it was impossible. Newcomb was once quoted as saying, “if such a machine were devised, what useful purpose could it possibly serve?” Melville spoke about the idea of humans flying as being wholly unwarranted and completely absurd. Wow, did they turn out to be wrong. Then along came the Wright Brothers.
Orville and Wilbur Wright were remarkable people. They never went to college, but were self-educated and self-taught. They learned to be mechanics and then created a highly successful bicycle company. But at some point they became obsessed with the idea of flying. They then went on a pursuit that led them to being the first humans to ever create and fly in a motorized airplane. The persistence, dedication, and endurance they demonstrated were amazing, and while someone else may eventually have figured out how to fly, their commitment led to these modern times, where millions of people take flight every day without a second thought.
But what about Charlie Taylor? Who was he? Charlie Taylor became indispensable to the Wright Brothers. Charlie was the mechanic who built the engines that made the Wright planes fly. The Wright’s took Charlie everywhere with them. He was in Kitty Hawk for the first test flights, and later he went to Europe and New York and traveled widely with them. He was their right-hand man that is sometimes forgotten in the story of the Wright brothers. But every success story always involves those individuals standing behind or off to the side of the main characters, those who often don’t get the recognition. Those people are indispensable.
Not many of us will ever be famous, and that’s ok. I think Charlie Taylor would be a great role to play in life. To be a part of something that was special, to be a good right-hand man, and to be a great support…in the background. No matter how your life turns out, be proud of the role you have played as a mother, father, sister, brother, teacher, police officer, laborer, electrician, friend, club member…the list goes on. Don’t forget the positive impact you have had in the world and remember that every day is another chance to bring good to the world. Play your part for the good.
“It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.” – Wilbur Wright