Plans Change

Will was a smart kid.  His father, a bishop, always encouraged his children to expand their knowledge in all areas.  Their home in Dayton, Ohio, was filled with books on a vast array of subjects.  Will was an avid reader, but he had not had time to read all of the books in the family’s collection.  At the young age of sixteen, Will had a plan in motion which would lead to Yale University.  No one doubted that his plan would come to fruition.  When Will set his mind to do something, he did it.  He was a star athlete and a model student, but even the best laid plans can change.

One cold winter’s day Will was playing ice hockey with the boys in the neighborhood including Oliver Haugh, the town bully.  Whether accidental or intentional, the bully slung his hockey stick and it struck Will in the face.  The force of the hockey stick knocked out most of Will’s front teeth and the pain was horrendous.  Will had oral surgery to repair the damage and spent weeks at home recovering.  As this was the era before television and radio, Will had little to do but read.  Will read, and read, and read.  He was on course to read every book in the house when he read a book that changed the course of his life.  No longer did he dream of attending Yale University.  It was rarely, if ever, mentioned in the household again.  He had a new dream.  He had a new goal.

Aviation was in its infancy and most people knew that controlled human flight was impossible.  Several inventers had built machines which they claimed would fly, but most of them did little more than soften what would be a hard fall.  Most of these inventors were injured and some died trying to fly their contraptions.  Anyone who invested time and money into the venture was labeled a crackpot.

Will read every book he could find on the subject but there were only a few.  Almost all of the published books were only theories and not based on scientific research.  His dream turned into obsession.  Will became so obsessed that his fixation spread to his brother.  The pair studied every flying creature in nature that they had access to, and built many models based on their observations.  For years, they could think of little more than controlled flight.  They had many failures in the beginning but they tweaked their plans until they were eventually successful.  After many successful flights in their gliders, they added a small motor and the impossible became possible.

For if Oliver Haugh, the bully, had not injured Will during an ice hockey match, it would have taken many more years, possibly decades more, before a human made the first controlled flight.  Will…bur Wright’s obsession spread to his brother Orville Wright.  The Wright Brothers.  What happened to Oliver Haugh, the bully?  In 1907, he was executed for murdering his own father, mother, brother, and investigators believed he was responsible for the deaths of at least thirteen more people.

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