Dreams Can Take Flight

Wright-Brothers-flightMark 9:23  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

It all started over 100 years ago in a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. Two brothers, with the unlikely names of Wilbur and Orville, both self-taught engineers lacking high school diplomas and formal education, dreamed of the lofty goal of flight. This goal was challenged by the critics who said it could not be done, by the lack of funding, and by the disappointment of hundreds of failed experiments. Yet, relentlessly they pressed on in its pursuit. Theirs was a dream that they could not escape, a dream that no one could separate them from, a dream that ultimately became synonymous with who they were. These brothers were Orville and Wilbur Wright; their dream was flight; their destiny was its fulfillment.

The Beginnings Of A Dream

Wilbur was born near Richmond, Indiana in 1867, and Orville was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1871. They were two of seven children of Milton and Susan Wright. Milton was a well-educated minister in the United Brethren Church. He encouraged his children to pursue learning through study. The house in which they lived contained two libraries. One held Milton’s study books and the other held books of various subjects. Their mother was college-educated and also encouraged her children to study, but since she was the daughter of a carriage-maker, she also persuaded them to find out how mechanical things worked. Both of their parents’ influences later aided them in attaining their dream. Orville later stated, “We were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where there was always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests; to investigate whatever aroused curiosity.”

Because of their father’s position the Wright family moved around a lot. One of these moves was in June 1884, when the family moved from Richmond, Indiana, back to Dayton, Ohio. This was the month that Wilbur would have graduated from high school. Wilbur left Richmond having never received his diploma. He later went back to Central High in Dayton, Ohio, and continued his studies that included Greek and trigonometry.

Orville was an average student, except in the sciences. He dropped out of school during the middle of high school so he could join Wilbur in a printing and publishing company they began. They built the press they used from old buggy parts. In 1889, they began publishing the West Side News, which was a small four-page newspaper.

A Place To Dream

In 1892 the Wright Brothers opened a bicycle repair shop showroom. Three years later, they began assembling bicycles with tools of their own invention. Their Wright Cycle Co. produced two models called the “Van Cleve” and the “Wright Flyer.” During these years an old passion that these brothers shared became rekindled. This passion’s beginnings could be traced to a rubber band driven flying toy called a “hélicoptère,” which their father gave them as small boys. In 1899, Wilbur sent a letter to the Smithsonian Institution requesting any information they might have on flight. The pamphlets they sent started the boys on their fated path. The more they studied, the more interested they became in experiencing manned flight.

They studied birds and how they flew. They contacted other inventors who were also attempting to fly, and gleaned what information they could from their findings. From this data the Wrights decided the best course to fulfill their goal was to design a glider that could at first be flown as a kite at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1900 they designed and built a “double-decker” glider. It was to have a wingspan of 20 feet, but Wilbur was unable to located spars that fit their need, so the actual dimensions for wingspan of this first craft were 17′ 5.” The craft weighed only 50 lbs and cost them $15.00 to build. The longest flight this glider flew was between 300 and 400 feet in length. Not quite transatlantic flight, but a start!

The Wright brothers returned to North Carolina in July, 1901. They made their camp in Kill Devil Hills, rather than Kitty Hawk, because they found the large hills there more conducive to their tests than those at Kitty Hawk. The new glider was an enlarged version of the 1900 glider. The wings were 22′ wide and 7′ deep. Unfortunately, the 1901 glider still did not have adequate lift. Various attempts at free flight were made; the longest flight on August 8 covered a distance of 389 feet.

The results of 1901 were discouraging. Wilbur wrote: “When we left Kitty Hawk at the end of 1901, we doubted that we would ever resume our experiments. Although we had broken the record for distance in gliding, and although Mr. Chanute, who was present at that time, assured us that our results were better than had ever before been attained, yet when we looked at the time and money which we had expended, and considered the progress made and the distance yet to go, we considered our experiments a failure. At this time I made the prediction that men would sometime fly, but that it would not be within our lifetime.” Orville later remember that Wilbur had remarked, “Not within a thousand years would man ever fly!” Fortunately within the next few years their efforts would prove this prediction wrong.

At the end of their gliding experiments in 1901, the Wrights knew there was something wrong with their lift calculations. In an effort to better test their designs these brothers designed and built the first wind tunnel. With this machine they tested the affects of air pressure on more than two hundred wing surfaces. Their scientific approach that jointly tested their experiments’ control, lift, and propulsion was groundbreaking. The same control surfaces and basic principles used on the Wrights’ first airplane are still in use on today. These are: the rudder, which moves the airplane from side to side, this movement is known as yaw; the elevator, which moves the plane up and down, this movement is known as pitch; and the ailerons, which make the airplane roll, this movement is known as roll.

People had dreamed of flying for many years. The United States Army was trying to develop an airplane in 1903, but the plane wouldn’t fly. The New York Times wrote that maybe in 1 million to 10 million years they might be able to make a plane that would fly. Only eight days later, at 10:35 A.M., on a cold, windswept patch of sand on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, two brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright, proved them wrong. In a newly built machine that was powered by a gasoline-engine and propellers they had designed and built in Dayton, Ohio, Orville Wright took the controls and flew into history as the first man to fly a powered, heavier-than-air flying machine.

On that day mankind, two quiet ordinary men from the American Midwest removed the restraints that had held men to the Earth since time began. In a flight that covered only 120 feet and lasted a mere 12 seconds, Orville had made a controlled, sustained flight that after 100 years still impacts on us today. In short, this short flight, conquered the laws of flight, and forever changed the way that people would live, and consequently the way men would dream.

Wilbur died in 1912, at the age of 45. Orville died in 1948, at the age of 76. Orville had been a 28-year member of the NACA. Ten-years after his death this organization became known as NASA. During Orville’s lifetime, he had watched the airplane go from a dream into a reality that could fly across seas and consequently caused the entire world to become a much closer, much more accessible place.

Our Dreams Can Take Flight

The story of the Wright Brothers is a lesson that we should remember. It is much more than us having the ability to “go Delta” or to “Fly the Friendly Skies”; it involved two men who, not unlike ourselves, had opportunities for success, and had opportunities for failure. From their humble beginnings in a bicycle shop they dreamed and planned, they drew and built, constantly working toward their life’s ambition. They birthed this dream and pursued it not allowing failures or obstacles to divert them from their goal. Orville and Wilbur lived many years before they saw their dream take flight. Their dream was one beyond themselves, and beyond their experience, yet they poured themselves into its fulfillment believing that one day their bicycle dreams would take flight.

The fulfillments of any man’s dreams are no different. They may not begin in a bicycle shop, but they still can come to pass if they are prayerfully planned and pursued with the fervor necessary to see them fulfilled. Just like the Wrights who pursued a dream to touch the sky, we should always carry a desire to touch the One who placed it there. Our life’s dream may not defy a law of nature, but none-the-less, our dream’s outcome will still be determined by our choices, and these choices will still have an impact on the lives we touch. We must remember that our touching heaven will always impact earth.

Your success in life will be measured not by what accomplishments you hold in your hand, but rather by Whose hand you are holding. Just as an airplane requires an engine to push it and a wing to lift it to flight, you will never succeed within yourself. The Bible agrees with this when it says, “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way” (Psalms 37:23). Jesus gives us a life to live. How we live it is our choice. Jesus challenges us to pursue our dreams. To do this we must offer Him our lives unconditionally; trust His lead unreservedly; believe in Him abundantly.

If a bicycle shop can produce a flying machine, how much more can the God who hung all the stars of heaven produce in us that which is needed for our success? In reference to this very thing Paul said, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). A beginning work is not a finished work…we are just to pursue our dream and trust Jesus for the means we need to achieve it. Remember this next verse. “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually” (1 Chronicles 16:11). I pray today that you live this scripture and that you pursue its call all the days of your life.


Copyright © 2016 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.


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