Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ecce Homo

Howard Roark, intransigent architect hero of Ayn Rand's novel, The Fountainhead, is one of the most inspiring creations in the history of literature. He had his own ideas about what and how to build, and he turned them into reality in spite of all the obstacles a timid and envious society could hurl against him.

Much more inspiring, though, is an intransigent hero who actually existed. Behold the man, Wilbur Wright. The oldest dream of man was to fly. Icarus, Bellerophon on Pegasus, flying carpets, and countless other myths and fables show the dream realized in fiction. Leonardo Da Vinci, a hero of the Renaissance, worked on making the dream a reality, but it was too early. Technology was not yet advanced enough.

When the technology was ready, Wilbur Wright (and to a lesser extent, Orville Wright) stepped forward and engineered the marvel of powered flight. From the dauntless self-confidence needed to believe he could achieve this "impossible dream," through long hours of research, countless brilliant experiments, successes and setbacks - all funded from the Wrights' own savings - to the epoch making first flight at Kill Devil Hills (near Kitty Hawk), Wilbur Wright overcame every obstacle.

He conquered the sky.

Wilbur Wright is man, the hero. Next time someone moans that he is "only human," remind him of what heroes men can be, by pointing to Wilbur Wright.

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