The dream of flight

AT THE dawn of the 20th century, more precisely on December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright flew for the first time in a home built aircraft that barely managed to stay in the air for a few seconds.

They made the world’s first sustained, powered, and controlled flight in a heavier-than-air flying machine, thereby realizing one of mankind’s oldest and most persistent aspirations – human flight. And now, a century later, the first steps have been taken to leave the gravity of our planet Earth and fly off into space.

The first aircraft matured in a little over a decade from a flimsy device barely capable of leaving the ground to a sophisticated multi-role craft fighting in the First World War. It has now been more than 50 years since man ventured out for the first time into space and since then progress has been slow. Attempts have been made to speed up this by commercialising space by offering ‘cheap’ sub-orbital trips, notably by Virgin Galactic, but so far only test flights have been made and the major obstacle now may well be bureaucratic, as no legal framework exists to run a space line. In order to fly a spaceship you need a space pilot’s licence that doesn’t exist, and can’t exist under the current worldwide regulations, as you need to be instructed by a qualified flight instructor who would already hold that license – that doesn’t exist. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of changing regulations, as this often requires acts of parliament and major structural changes in the legal system that can take decades to achieve.

How did things get done a century ago when a similar situation arose? The fact is they just got on with it by using imagination and common sense. These two qualities are rare today and this has a direct impact on our society, as we are now quite capable of legislating ourselves back to the Stone Age.  The best gift we can give to our children is to spark their imaginations and to stretch the minds and get them to believe that dreams can be made real and progress can be made that can carry our society onward and upwards for better future for all.