Do you remember the Wright Brothers? They were the two bicycle mechanics who pioneered the first airplane.
But did you also know that Dr. Samuel Langley, a professor of mathematics and astronomy at the Smithsonian Institute, was expected to do it before them? This brilliant scientist published books on the subject ten years before the Wright brothers even thought of flying their first plane. His experiments achieved such a high level of success, that the U.S War Department even funded him.
But on October 8, 1903 when Langley tried to fly his first bi-plane, it finished up in the water, not more than 50 yards from where it had taken off.
The New York Times blasted him and called it "A ridiculous fiasco." They wrote, "Man might fly one day - perhaps one to ten million years from now." But Langley was able to ignore their criticism and stay focused.
Two months later he tried again. And again he was unsuccessful. This time the wing supports broke as the plane took off, and it plunged upside down into a river. The pilot almost died.
The newspapers labeled it, "Langley's Folly." Again the New York Times led the way; "We hope that Professor Langley will not put his substantial greatness in further peril by continuing to waste his time and money." This time Langley couldn't bounce back!
Soon after this he wrote, "I have brought to a close the portion of the work, which seemed to be specially mine. For the next stage the world may look to others." Deeply discouraged he gave up his life's dreams without seeing one of his planes in the air.
Nine days later, Orville and Wilbur Wright, with no education and no funds, flew their plane, Flyer I, over the sands of Kitty Hawk and into the history books.
A little over two years after his failure, Langley suffered a stroke and died. Sadly, while most of the world has heard of the Wright Brothers, he is almost unknown.
Why did Langley finally fail? Because he considered his failure to be final! Everybody fails. The winners are just the ones that keep getting back up again!