Yesterday was the 115th anniversary of the first powered flight.
I flew 25 tons of Christmas presents from Leipzig, Germany to Barcelona, Spain (a distance of a little under 1000 miles) in just over 2 hours.
Our collection of a million parts (some rotating at 10,000 rpm) and a 180 kilos of flesh and bone, flew at a height of 7 miles, covering an average of 8 miles per minute, in a temperature of -60 degrees Celsius and it did it in perfect safety… in an aircraft designed just 65 years after the first wooden and fabric covered aircraft flew.
After I’d slept, I laced up a pair of running shoes, designed and manufactured by computers, made from materials synthesised by chemists, using a raw material made from forests and dinosaur bones compressed and heated over millions of years, then pulled from deep under ground where it had been laid hidden. My progress was tracked by a little computer strapped to my wrist, using the signals from a cluster of satellites, thrown into a medium earth orbit, just inside our planet’s gravity well, atop a controlled explosion traveling at several kilometres per second.
Later, I walked to the waterfront and unpacked a tiny collection of plastic and metal parts, electrical circuits and a lithium fuel cell and flew the craft made using those parts, remotely from a hand held radio transmitter connected to a small video communications and internet device, in order to capture photos and video of the city and the marina.
Ingenuity, imagination and perseverance are the most powerful tools we have as a race and we can, when we put our minds to it, use them for amazing things. Look where we have gone in the last 150 years. Where will we be in another 150? I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see the direction we take.
I’d like to think that eventually we will realise that we are doing each other and the planet we live on, a lot of harm and come to the conclusion that we should be working together to settle our differences and move forward, rather than finding more ingenious ways to outdo each other. Let’s use our intelligence wisely and collectively for the ‘greater good’ (a quick nod to one of my all time favourite films).
May this post serve as thanks and encouragement to all past, current and future visionaries, who somehow see the world differently from the rest of us and design the tools and processes, which allow us ordinary people, to do extraordinary things.