By Cameron Taylor
The following is a guest post by Cameron C. Taylor, author of Does Your Bag Have Holes: 24 Truths That Lead to Financial and Spiritual Freedom. Be sure to check out his blog at his website, doesyourbaghaveholes.org!
To achieve financial success, God requires us to take initiative. Wealth does not fall from the heavens but is created through work and the gaining and application of knowledge.
Some believe they deserve a high standard of living because they are righteous and live the commandments of God. They see no need for additional effort on their part. This is as foolish as the farmer who neglects to plant his crops and says, “God will make my crops grow because I am a good person.” God does make seeds grow, but in order to receive a harvest, planting, watering, tending, and harvesting are all required. Prosperity is not the result of simply being good. To say something like, “If I pay my tithe, God will take care of everything else” or “If God wanted me to have money, he would give it to me,” is as foolish as saying, “If God wanted my hair combed, he would comb it for me.” The truth is that God will not do for man what he can do for himself.
The Wright Brothers—Creating the Wings God Wanted for Man
William J. Tate, a man who helped the Wright brothers in assembling the Wright’s first glider in North Carolina, wrote of the early flights, “The mental attitude of the natives toward the Wrights was that they were a simple pair of harmless cranks that were wasting their time at a fool attempt to do something that was impossible. The chief argument against their success could be heard at the stores and post office, and ran something like this: ‘God didn’t intend man to fly. If He did, He would have given him a set of wings on his shoulders.’”
Wilber was born in 1867 and Orville was born in 1871 to Susan and Milton Wright in the Midwest. They were taught the gospel by their father who was a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. In their youth, Wilber and Orville read the Bible as well as many other books from their father’s library. Throughout his life, Milton never tired of relating the positive effect the Bible had had on his children. The Wright brothers exemplified their Christian values through their daily living. They refused to fly or work on Sunday and abstained from alcohol, tobacco, and gambling.
Orville and Wilber’s interest in flying began in 1878 when their father gave them a toy helicopter. This interest turned into an active pursuit at the end of the 19th century. Wilber began reading everything he could lay his hands on, everything in sight. His father had some simple books on flight in nature in his library, and the Dayton Public Library had a handful of things on flight. When he had exhausted the local resources, Wilbur wrote to the Smithsonian Institution asking for more information on flight.
In 1899, they began their flight experiments. At this time, the Wright brothers were running a bicycle repair and sales shop. It was revenues from this company that supported their living expenses and funded the development of the airplane. During the next four years, the Wright brothers performed thousands of tests, experiments, and flights. In 1901, they created the world’s first wind tunnel and tested more than 200 different wing shapes and just in the months of September and October of 1902 they made over 700 glides. On December 17, 1903, Orville, age 32, and Wilber, age 36, achieved their dream of a controlled, powered flight. The flight covered a distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds—about half the length of a 747 jumbo jet. This flight was the beginning of modern aviation.
In 1904, the Wright brothers decided to take a financial risk and withdraw from the bicycle business to focus on developing a practical airplane they could sell. Wilbur explained to an acquaintance, “ . . . we believed that if we would take the risk of devoting our entire time and financial resources we could conquer the difficulties in the path to success . . . as our financial future was at stake [we] were compelled to regard it as a strict business proposition.” (Tom D. Crouch, The Bishop’s Boys, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989) p. 273–274) They would have to make the airplane a profitable business to survive, but they never compromised their values. The Wright brothers expected their employees to observe their family rules and among those who worked for them there was no drinking, gambling, or flying on Sundays.
In February 1908, the company obtained a contract from the U.S. Army to build a two-seat aircraft that could fly for an hour at an average speed of 40 miles per hour and land undamaged. In July 1909, they completed a flight that met the U.S. Army’s requirements and received $30,000 ($645,000 in 2006 dollars) for their aircraft. In 1910, they added air shows and commercial air cargo shipping to their business, earning nearly $100,000 ($2 million in 2006 dollars) in profit that year.
Flying was a risky venture. Otto Lilienthal, an early aviator pioneer whose work assisted and inspired the Wright brothers, died after a gust of wind threw his glider out of balance, causing him to fall fifty feet, breaking his spine. His last words were quoted as “sacrifices must be made” and these words were carved on his tombstone. The brothers wrote of Lilienthal and other early aviator pioneers that their work “infected us with their own unquenchable enthusiasm, and transformed idle curiosity into the active zeal of workers.”
Orville and Wilber experienced their share of crashes. One occurred on September 17, 1908, when a propeller malfunctioned and the aircraft crashed killing the passenger. Orville suffered multiple serious injuries, including a broken leg and broken ribs. Because of the dangers in flying, and at the request of their father, Wilber and Orville never flew together. However, on May 25, 1910, after they had made many improvements that increased the safety of the airplane, and for the sake of history, the father agreed to let Wilber and Orville fly together. This was the only time the brothers flew together. After this flight, Orville took his 81-year-old father on the only flight of his life, which lasted 6 minutes and 55 seconds. At one point during the flight, Milton leaned close to his son’s ear and shouted “Higher, Orville, higher!”
Wilber died from typhoid fever in 1912 at age 45. “Twenty-five thousand people viewed his casket and for three full minutes the citizens of Dayton stopped everything they were doing as they mourned an American hero. Orville had lost his brother, his best friend, his other half who knew the secrets of flying. He was devastated, but he carried on.” (Louise Borden and Trish Marx, Touching the Sky, (New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2003) Orville continued to run The Wright Company for three more years until he was 44 years old. On October 15, 1915, Orville sold his interest in the company. The New York Times reported that Orville received roughly $1.5 million ($30 million in 2006 dollars), plus an additional $25,000 ($500,000 in 2006 dollars) for his services as chief consulting engineer during the first year of the new company’s operation.
God did not give men wings upon their shoulders, but He did give them minds and hands to create. It took faith, study, courage, work, and persistence to achieve the miracle of flight. Two men with a dream to fly created wings for us all—the wings God intended for man.