First In Flight
Did you know that today’s supersonic jet aircraft were made possible by two amateur mechanics who had a hobby that grew into a lifelong do-it-yourself project?
Orville and Wilbur Wright did more than invent the airplane, they discovered the basics of flight. And, they had to create the whole process almost from scratch. Here’s their story.
The Wright brothers opened their now famous bicycle shop in Dayton Ohio, in 1892. The two finished high school but were not trained as engineers. They were, however, both mechanically inclined with sharp analytical minds. They shared what at the time was a barely respectable dream: the possibility of flight. Their serious work in aviation began in 1899 when Wilbur wrote to the Smithsonian for literature.
The two read everything they could find about aeronautics, but were dismayed to learn that so many early experiments with manned flight had made so little progress. Later they wrote, “We saw that the calculations upon which all flying machines had been based were unreliable…After two years of experiments, we cast it all aside and decided to rely entirely upon our own investigations.”
To do that, they built the world’s first wind tunnel in which they tested wing designs and propellers. They couldn’t buy a lightweight engine so they built their own. For two years they built gliders and made a thousand test glides from Big Kill Devil Hill on the shores of North Carolina. Their experience with gliders taught them to be pilots before they risked their lives in a powered flight.
On the morning of December 17, 1903, the first manned, heavier-than-air machine left the ground under its own power, moved forward under control without losing speed, and landed on a point as high as that from which it started. The era of flight had begun.
You don’t have to be an inventor to benefit from the Wright brothers’ success. Every individual needs to be a leader when it comes to safety. Safety rules and safe operating procedures have been spelled out, written down and talked about but they are empty promises if you don’t use them. We have the safety knowledge of the ages at our disposal to protect us. But our safety each day is still up to each of us.
Your job, your future, your life can depend on your own day-to-day awareness of the danger that hides in preventable accidents. Don’t take an untested shortcut just to save a few seconds of time. A safe day yesterday in no protection against a different set of work or traffic conditions today.
Be a leader. Put all of your safety skill and experience to work to protect yourself and others-at home and at work. Know the rules of safety. Take your personal safety into your own hands. Make each day a safe day.
Be A Leader…Follow Safety Rules
*Copyright 2003 Harkins Safety B172