Klavan On The Culture

Me at Kitty Hawk

Back from a terrific vacation – and what I wanted to post were the Action Man photos of me on my first (tandem) paragliding excursion in Aspen.  But American Airlines – you know who you are – has lost my luggage with the photo disk inside.  Instead, here’s a shot my wife snapped of me standing in Kitty Hawk, North  Carolina, where Orville and Wilbur Wright took their first flights.  The markers behind me (the first one obscured by my enormous head) mark where the first three flights landed less than a football field away from where they started and about twelve seconds after take-off.  But with the luggage intact!

As a one-time pilot and lover of flight – not to mention American ingenuity – it literally gave me chills to stand where, as the monument on nearby Kill Devil Hill says, the bros conquered the air in an act “conceived by genius, achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.”

Inspired, I sent a quick note to another – and current – pilot, Bill Whittle:

I love this Wright Brothers quote from the onsite museum:  “All of the experiments have been conducted at our own expense without assistance from any individual or institution.”  If only they’d had a Government Flight Initiative, we would still be without airplanes to this very day!

Whittle (the smart alec!) wrote back reminding me of a bit of history I’d forgotten:

Turns out there was in fact a US Government run airplane program, and it was run by Samuel Langley, Director of the Smithsonian Institution. His aircraft was underpowered, over weight, uncontrollable (just as the government is) and it crashed into the Potomac after staggering a few feet (just like the Government will).

Hahahaha.  True that!  More photos when – if – my luggage shows up.