A Story Worth Telling – A Watercolor Artist who was a Fighter Pilot

P-47 FW-190

I wanted to get this down on paper before I forget the specifics, in which case I have no idea if the contents will ever get told.

It was over 30 years ago and my and I were stationed at an Air Base in Germany during the Cold War.  The job I did was pretty exciting, even if it was a desk job (for the most part), so I wanted to get a hobby that I could pursue in my off time (we had no children yet, so we had some time to take on a hobby).  I had heard about a watercolor painting course, so I decided to sign up for the course since I always wanted to paint in watercolor.  It seemed challenging to have to plan the paint around the paper, using the paper as the “white” of the picture.

The instructor of the course was an outstanding artist.  He once drew a rose on a chalkboard with white chalk and I swear that the flower was real!  His instruction was excellent, even though at times his thick German accent made him sound like something out of World War II movie.

Once, while teaching shadows, he started to refer to the direction of the shadows as “clock” directions.  For instance, he would say that the light is coming from the “9 o’clock” position or the “3 o’clock” position.  After the class, I approached the instructor; I believe his name was Hans, and asked him about the references.  I then asked him if he was ever a pilot.

We both sat down (the rest of the class had left) and he told me that he was a pilot in the Luftwaffe, flying Focke-Wulf 190s (FW-190s), probably one of the most powerful fighter planes in the War at that time.  I then was bold (probably bordering on presumptuous) to ask him if he had ever shot anyone down.  He then became very pensive and told me a story as if he was telling it to a student pilot.  He was ferrying aircraft as part of a “two ship” between Munich and Frankfurt toward the end of the war as a Luftwaffe Cadet.  He told me that the Americans were referred to as “Indians” on the radio; the German pilots were the “Cowboys” and that a number of “Indians” were located on their ferry route.  As Hans heard this on the radio, he saw that a number of US Army Air Corps P-47 Thunderbolts bombing and strafing a railway station.  The American aircraft were flying in a circle above the railway station and taking turns diving on the target.  Hans and his wing man mixed in with the P-47s as if they were part of the American group, he later telling me that the P-47 and the FW-190 had a similar silhouette.  It was working when one of the US pilots detected the two enemy aircraft and the pursuit was on.  Both Hans and his wing man were pursued separately by two P-47s.  Hans was trying to outrun his pursuer, including taking a dive into a nearby town, where he jinked and janked through streets.  I thought to ask him was his greatest fear was, but I thought he would probably say a “one-way street.”

He was still being pursued when he went into a climb, knowing that an FW-190 could out climb a P-47.  It worked and he was able to turn his pursuer into the pursued.  He then grew a little less vocal and told me that he fired just one burst into the P-47 and it exploded.   Hans paused for a moment and explained that he probably hit the fuel tank.  He then said that one of other US Aircraft shot and disabled his aircraft, but he was able to bail out, and looked over and saw his wingman’s parachute a little distance off.  They both landed in a field and were picked up by an US Army officer who took them prisoner and then were later released after the war was over.

I then asked him if he was a Nazi (again, I was getting a little carried away and becoming too curious for my own good).  He looked at me and stated he was, but that everyone was even if they did not believe in the cause because otherwise they were considered enemies of the state.  He did tell me that he wanted to be a doctor, but because he was a member of the Nazi party, he was not allowed to become a doctor.  He chose to become an artist and has lived that life ever since.

Like I said in the beginning of this article, this is a story worth telling not because it was something extraordinary, or because it was so unique, but it showed how this man became a part of my life.  Every time I do something in watercolor, whether it is a landscape, a character for my books, anything that involves art or drawing, I think of Hans.   Hans was a member of an armed force that was hated through its defeat, but somehow talking with him made me understand a little of what it was like from his perspective.  I felt so sorry for the US pilot whose life was taken that day, but also for the man who took that life.  Even 40 years after the incident, the Luftwaffe Cadet had regret.  I wanted to tell the story that he hopefully has told others, but told me in the privacy of a room on an US Air Base in Germany, something of an irony.  And it is something that I remembered from over 30 years ago; it had that big an impact on me.

Pass this story on as you see fit, to whomever you want.  This story was a part of my life and something I remember and wanted to share it if for nothing else than to put it in writing as a part of who I am.  I hope that Hans told the story to people he cared about, as I am telling it to you.

Learn, Offer, Value, Educate (LOVE)

Submarines, Air Assault, and The Swedish Olympic Soccer Team

Sub and Soccer Goal1

Clip Art from Free Sources – Illustration by Chris Greco

Strange title, no?  What if I were to tell you that all three of the subjects in the title are interrelated?  What if I were to tell you that something practiced repeatedly makes you so proficient that you will repeat it in your sleep?

Let’s start with submarines.  There was a movie in the 1950s about a submarine that had to go into battle with very little odds of survival.  The captain, a survivor of a previous battle that resulted in his submarine being sunk by an enemy vessel, had nightmares about the encounter and, being given a new command, had the crew constantly drilling day and night, even timing them.  The crew was becoming almost mutinous because the captain refused to tell them why they were doing this, and the first officer had a hard time keeping the crew in line, even though he was loyal to the captain.  Well, the day came that an enemy vessel was pursuing the submarine and the captain ordered the drill.  The crew, not even thinking, went through the drill and fired torpedoes on time and sunk the enemy vessel.  The drill paid off, and the rest of the movie played on that success.  If you are interested, the movie is called “Run Silent, Run Deep” and has in the cast some of the most famous movie stars of my era including Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry), Cary Grant (Gone with the Wind), and Don Rickles (Toy Story, voice).  You can find out more at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052151/.

Now we make a smooth segue from submarines to Air Assault School, run by the US Army (see how I did that?).  I was a student at this school in the early 1990s and can attest that, over 20 years later, I still remember at least two things from that school – tying a Swiss Seat and the “Guide Hand” vs “Brake Hand.”  To lay the groundwork for this portion of the article, a Swiss Seat is a rope that you tie around your waist and between your legs to support you when you are rappelling.  Without a good Swiss Seat, the metal ring connecting you to the lifesaving rappel rope will disconnect and you will fall to your death.  Okay, now that we have that concept straight, on to the article.

We tied Swiss Seats several times a day and had to meet a 60 second time limit.  We worked hard at this and finally the test day came for tying a Swiss Seat and the instructor said we had 90 seconds to tie them.  We looked at him in disbelief.  He just smiled and said “Now doesn’t this seem easy?”

The second thing that was drummed into our heads was the “Guide Hand” and the “Brake Hand” in rappelling.  The guide hand was normally your weak hand that you used to guide yourself down the rope (you do not grip it tightly or you have BAD blisters – take it from someone who did just that).  The brake hand was your strong hand that you used behind you to speed up or slow down or stop.  It is essential so that you do not drop uncontrolled to your death (notice how everything had a life/death ring to it?)

At night, after the class, I would be sleeping and suddenly away in the rappel position with my guide hand and brake hand in the proper position.  I do not do this now, but I can immediately take that rappel position if someone were to yell for me to do that.  I learned tons about Army training from that course.  You were trained not to think about a situation but react the way you were trained.  Fewer mistakes that way.  You don’t want to over think it, otherwise your hesitation could mean a life (maybe yours!).

Now, after that dissertation, we move again smoothly to the Swedish Olympic Soccer Team which recently earned a Silver Medal in the Rio Olympics (http://sports.yahoo.com/news/germany-women-dethrone-usa-in-olympic-soccer-221835506.html).  What they did to their competition to get to the Gold Medal round was very similar to the two examples above.  The Swedish team played defense intensively with their first two opponents and then won on penalty kicks.  It is very evident that they practiced this maneuver, ensuring they would win on the penalty kicks.  They were so assured of this tactic that they played to tie, not to win.  When they played the Germans in the final, they turned to offense since a Swedish defender accidentally sent a ball into her own goal.  Now the Germans had the upper hand and hung on with their own defense to win the game.  Unfortunately, putting so many people on defense has its downside, mainly setting up a “pinball” effect with balls sent into the defense.  Notwithstanding, the Swedish Team won their other matches based on the training that they had received (in my opinion).  That is what training is all about, using tactics that are proven solid and implementing those tactics when the time is right.  The Swedish Team did this and, as a result, earned a Silver Medal.  Again in my opinion, their only hesitation was not using the tactic consistently against the Germans, or maybe the Germans looked at the “films” of the other contests and adjusted their tactics.  Either way, the Swedish Team should not feel bad at all about their accomplishment.  They are the second best in the world.

Learn, Offer, Value, and Educate (LOVE)

 

How Misreported Data Can Become Hyperbole

High HDL

I just read an article by Newsmax (http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/good-HDL-cholesterol-death/2016/08/17/id/743936/#CommentSection) that had the title of “Too Much ‘Good’ Cholesterol Linked to Early Death.”

Seeing as I have heart disease, I read with interest and saw that the study was in the Clinical Journal of American Nephrology (cjasn.asnjournals.org).  I searched the journal for the study and finally found one that I think the Newsmax story was referring (the study was not cited specifically in the article, so I had to do the search based on what was in the story).  This study was completed by researchers, some of which were from the Washington University School of Medicine (not all as implied by the story).  The title of the article was “High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol and the Risk of All-Cause Mortality among U.S. Veterans” (http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/content/early/2016/08/10/CJN.00730116.abstract?sid=6a08e6c2-7164-4c48-bfe2-1a553bb161f4).

I read the abstract and found that the study was done on US Veterans (one factor that isolates this finding to US Veterans) and the study was done on over 1,000,000 MEN that were US Veterans between 2003 and 2004.  Basically, what this says is that this study is applicable to MEN who were veterans during a time when we were invading Iraq and preparing for that conflict.  In other words, by saying in a very general sense that “Too Much ‘Good’ Cholesterol Linked to Early Death” the news outlet published a misleading title and the article itself does little to mitigate the title.  The article does not refer to this article being done with US Veterans and Men only.  It does not go into the analogy that too much of ANYTHING can be deadly (including air and water).  It does not refer adequately to the study in question, other than the journal.  The title would have been better if it would have been specific to Male US Veterans that are suffering from kidney disease (that’s right, that was part of the study in the form of “eGFR” blood tests, which test for kidney disease).

I write this to ensure that people do NOT take news articles at face value.  Do some research and come to your own conclusions.  Do NOT let the news media outlets tell you how to think.  Do that for yourselves.

 I am surprised that the clinical journal authors have not tried to contact the news media outlet to let them know that the news outlet was wrong in their conclusions.  The sad part of all this is that some people will read this article and then believe that they need to reduce their HDL to survive longer.  This is not only misleading but could be fatal to those that do not understand the medical implications of what they are doing.  If you are in doubt, contact your doctor and talk to him/her about your condition and express your concerns to them.  They are the ones that are usually current on these studies.

As for me, I am going to continue to grow my HDL and ensure that I am protected against further instances of heart disease.   I will not let one article written by one news outlet that was in my opinion misleading to the point of life threatening influence me to do something that would be injurious to my health.  This shows how data, if taken in the wrong context, can be hurtful to individuals reading second-hand about the data.

Data analysts and journal writers, please be careful to give as much information as possible and cite your sources specifically.

The “Columbus” Project – Today

Would the Santa Maria have a British Flag under this scenario?

Art by Chris Greco

After my father died over 20 years ago, my siblings and I had access to his notes, speeches, and other documentation that he left as part of his life as an executive and consultant.  There were two articles that intrigued me.  One I will write about later, but the document I found relating to the title of this paper is one that left me smiling and pondering at the same time.

I have never found where this article originated and have tried to find a copyright or other periodical citations and I have not be able to locate the writer.  If someone out there is the writer of this article and can provide a citation, please let me know and I will be more than happy to give you credit.  The article is over 40 years old, so I do not know if the writer or originator is still alive.  I refuse to take credit for this satire on the Christopher Columbus voyage, but the example is so real, so pertinent to our times as both a project manager and management in general, that I had to write about this story.

The article starts with a brief introduction, along with the date that would denote the present day (in this case it was August 1970 — I told you it was old!)

In his time, Christopher Columbus cranked out a couple of nutty, if knowledgeable, notions. First, he argued the world was round when everybody who was anybody knew it was as flat as a doubloon. Then he stoutly maintained you could reach India by sailing west-ward across the Atlantic. Let’s assume history has slipped a few hundred years. Columbus is planning his historic venture under the ground rules of business management today. He hopes to set sail August 3, 1970, instead of 1492. He’s just received a royal okay from King Ferdinand, Queen Isabella and a passel of palace politicians. Armed with all our modern business “conveniences,” plus the ubiquitous Project Progress Report, Columbus picks up his quill pen and writes:

BiWeekly Progress Report  1

(From Grand Admiral Christopher Columbus to King Ferdinand)

“First general staff meeting. Each section chief asked to submit detailed goals and timetables for his department. Task force formed to locate three seaworthy sailing vessels. Chief of Planning converting entire project into planning networks boards to be displayed in the new conference room upon completion. Chief of Public Relations brainstormed a title for our venture, ‘Project Ocean Blue.'”

Report 2

“Three vessels located, the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Preliminary analysis of large seagoing vessel market indicates these ships are the only square-riggers immediately available that meet budget requirements and specifications. New Systems and computer Group has undertaken feasibility study to determine if they should do a feasibility study on computer buy or lease options. General Provisions unable to locate walnut for the conference room. Expert in artificial satellite navigation hired by Navigations.”

Report 3

“General Provisions reports difficulty in purchasing the three vessels. Holding up procurement is Termite Inspection certificate which must be issued prior to sale. Chief of Provisions attempting to circumvent delay by obtaining Waiver of Inspection. Completed feasibility study indicates a feasibility study is feasible. Wide variety of navigation equipment reviewed. Bids to be let next week. Walnut still unavailable for executive conference room. Advertising for the crew being run in all major coastal cities.”

Report 4

“Have leased a computer and installed a work control system called Work Hours in Process. Preliminary system reports indicate Ship Procurement is lagging. Navigation and Meteorology ahead of schedule. Chief of Provisioning able to get termite inspection waived. we are pleased to hear of your visit next week; pushing for completion of the executive conference room.”

Report 5

“Work temporarily delayed by labor dispute. Personnel in General Provisioning refused to work with the new Work Hours in Process (WHIP) Systems. They took an exception to the name WHIP System and refused to work under the WHIP for anyone.  Name subsequently changed to WTS (Work Tracking System) and operations resumed. Legal Department suggests [foreign] registry to obtain maximum tax consideration. “sorry our new executive conference room was not finished for your visit.”

Report 6

“Additional obstacles appeared. Stern portion of the Nina fell off–termites. Ship Engineering locating new source of oak for necessary repairs. Team of government inspectors arrived, insisting vessels be certified as complying with new laws and regulations before work continues. Computer indicates work behind schedule except in Navigations where electronic equipment is being delivered. Consultant from  Inc. retained. Mr. Markowitz is an expert in motivational problems and work flow. Personnel Department has been unable to find veteran square-rigger sailors. However, they did hire 180 experienced sailors whose experience on junks is very similar.”

Report 7

“Mixup in deliveries resulted in executive conference room being paneled with oak and a carload of walnut delivered for ships repairs. Chief of Public Relations reports analysis shows nonacceptance of vessel names.

“Ships renamed  The Bonnie Bright,  The Blue Briar, and The Brentwood.  Analysis indicates B’s are big this year. Dispute over control of the Purchasing Unit has been settled. As a compromise, the Department will report to Markowitz, the consultant.”

Report 8

“Major decisions concerning vessels postponed for one week while general staff attended mandatory policy and procedures training on the insistence of Markowitz. Repairs progressing slowly on The Bonnie Bright (Nina). Government inspectors insist on inspecting all materials that go into repair. Problems developed with navigation equipment. Weight of units presenting problems of imbalance to older ships. Engineering working on a fix. Repairs to the The Bonnie Bright progressing slowly. Load of oak rejected by the inspectors because supplier lost his approved Vendor Rating for hiring a non-approved carpenter. Computer indicates vessels should be seaworthy, and general provisioning three-fourths complete. Chief of General Provisioning assures me logistics still within revised pessimistic estimates of original revision of the revised network. Foreign registry for the vessels received.”

Report 9

“Coordination of the project difficult. Staff having communication problems since returning from mandatory policy and procedure training. Engineering computes that if all navigation equipment is stowed on the starboard side of the ships, it can be kept in equilibrium if two-thirds or more of the crew stay on port side.

“A personal complication has arisen. My ship’s officer’s papers do not apply to a foreign registration.” Immediate search conducted for a ship’s captain who will qualify. Meetings held around the clock to bring the project back on schedule …

Report 10

“Several candidates located for ship’s captain. Interestingly, the consultant, Markowitz, was a captain stationed in Lithuania during the war and is qualified to hold registration. Government inspectors lean heavily to selecting Markowitz due to his five-point veterans’ preference. Distribution of seven million marketing brochures halted until captain selected.”

Report 11

“Markowitz chosen ship’s captain and new brochure being reprinted. Executive conference room completed and work board prominently displayed. Biggest break came, however, when government inspectors discovered they were on the wrong project. Actually they had been assigned to oversee construction of a replica of Lei£ Ericson’s bark for the Royal Museum. I have fired Chief of Navigation over new navigational equipment flap. Have decided to use archaic but reliable instrument called a sextant.”

Report 12

“Computer indicates vessels are 87 percent seaworthy. Estimated the project will only require two more weeks and an additional 20 percent allocation to complete.”

“A request for additional time and funding is hereby made.”

FOLLOWING CORRESPONDENCE FROM KING OF SPAIN, CHIEF OF PROJECTS:

“First, let us congratulate you on completing your conference room. We have followed the progress of ‘Ocean Blue’ with special interest. We are thrilled by the thought of three square-riggers called ‘The Bonnie Bright,’ ‘The Blue Briar’ and ‘The Brentwood,’ manned by 180 career sailors and captained by a man named Markowitz.”

“Unfortunately, a complication has arisen. First, an enterprising former employee named Frank Drake has formed a spin-off company, copped your ‘Round World’ thing. He set sail for the New world last week.   May I add ‘Project Ocean Blue’ was the most contemporary managed, best organized, ·and highly motivated adventure that ever went out of business.”

What this article points out does not need any additional narrative from this writer.  There are, however, a few questions that may bring a nice summary to this satirical article:

  1.  What was the original requirement?
  2.  How were these requirements morphed into something else?
  3.  How did the modern conveniences interlace with these requirements?

As project managers, it is our job to discuss with the stakeholders and determine requirements and then ensure we meet these requirements.  Please take the Columbus article with a grain of salt.  The bottom line is this:  if we do not consider the “reasons” then we cannot deliver the “results.”

Learn, Offer, Value and Educate (LOVE)

Customized Consulting – A Better Option?

Consulting-Client2Several years ago, I contacted an organization for financial counseling.  The organization was one that I trusted and had done business with them in the past so I knew them, and they knew me (or so I thought).

The first financial counselor I spoke with told my wife and me that we needed to be riskier in our investments, be more bold and grow our nest egg as quickly as possible.  I then asked the questions that caused this financial counselor to pause:

  1. Are you married?
  2. Do you have children?
  3. How old are your children?
  4. Are either of them in college?
  5. Do you live in a state that has a state tax?
  6. Do both of you work?
  7. Do YOU have risky investments?

I found out that this individual was married, the spouse worked, they had no kids (just animals) and they lived in a state that does NOT have a state tax.  I asked that the next financial counselor study our  file more closely and better match our life situation and experience.

Voila, the next financial counselor matched our life profile almost to a “T” and we talked for a while and this financial counselor stated that we were doing everything necessary to retire at the age we would like.

Why am I bringing this example in to an article talking about consulting?  I am a consultant with experience in private industry, public service, military, and academia.  As such, I have situations and knowledge of all these areas (granted some better than others).  However, after being in government employment for over 30 years, I would be better matched to consult in a government environment than a Fortune 500 environment and would be more than willing to admit that to the client.  However, I see Federal Government Agencies bring in private industry consultants to advise on management and other techniques.  Although I am sure that is some rare occasions this works, I can attest from experience on the receiving end of these consults that they do not work.  The main reasons are this:

  1. Many of the political appointees to Federal Government are from private industry and readily accept and use consultants’ recommendations, even if those recommendations do not fit the workforce
  2. Political appointees are now part of a government organization where the government employee has been part of the system (institution actually) for many years, sometimes decades.  Trying to move these employees past what they know is like moving an aircraft carrier (it takes miles)
  3. Consultants cannot relate to the government employee unless they have been there (and I am not talking about government contractors that have never been government employees – they have never experienced what government employees experience unless they have been there)
  4. Many government employees will simply wait out the political appointee (after all, the government employee will be there longer in any case) for the next voting cycle to possibly force the appointee to move on and things will move back to where they were before the political appointee (much like a bucket of water after the hand that is moving the water is removed from the bucket)

How does the consulting company change?  They really are not required to change.  The government will continue to use their services, thinking that they are somehow improving their organization, when in fact they are sometimes spending money for generalized recommendations that do not value-add to the organization, because the consulting company cannot in any way relate to the client, so they go into their tool kit and present generalized recommendations.  Do not believe me?  When you had your last consulting experience, how many recommendations related to communications?  This is one of the areas where NO company will perform in an outstanding manner, so it can always be improved, hence the recommendation.  Another topic for another article.

What I am saying is that the client/customer must change their ways and outline a series of requirements (questions) that they give to the company.  For example, let’s say you are government agency looking for a consult on a project/program management office (PMO) and need some advice from an outside consulting company.  The following questions would help to gauge the fitness of the consulting company for your purposes.

  1. How many of your employees are former government employees (not former government contractors)?
  2. How many of these employees possess project/program management experience (including any government project management/program management certifications)?
  3. What agencies employed these former government employees? (This helps to understand their shared experience – if they worked for very small agencies and never for a large one, this might be something you want to consider)
  4. How much do you understand the FARs?  (You do not have to expand this abbreviation.  Wait for the consulting company to ask which one.)
  5. What are the demographics of your company?  What are the demographics of your former government workers? (This will help in determining those from different age groups, which can help the overall consulting experience.)
  6. Will your recommendations use specific instances, examples, and situations so that the client can make any necessary changes to their existing processes?  If yes, please present any other reports to show your capabilities and experience in this area.

I am not saying these are the only questions, but these will help to tune the experience to be more beneficial for both the client and the consultant.  Of course, this article will not change any consulting processes without the client changing their methods of selecting consultants.  If the client looks more to their requirements and not their (possibly preconceived) results, the entire process would be forced to change.  Until that time happens, most of the the consulting business will give more of the same — generic recommendations for generic results.

Learn, Offer, Value, Educate (LOVE)

 

Orville, Wilbur, and Charlie??!!

Orville Wilbur and Charlie

Most people, when thinking of the first heavier-than-air flight, think of Orville and Wilbur Wright (the Wright Brothers).  Aviation enthusiasts think about that December day in 1903 when the Wright Brothers soared for 120 feet in 12 seconds to be the first in the air.  They attribute the feat to their engineering skill and just plain good project management and testing.  However, there was a third person that was involved in this endeavor that rarely comes to mind — Charles E. (Charlie) Taylor (pictured in the bottom left of the photo above).  This article is based on a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) document (https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/phl/local_more/media/CT%20Hist.pdf) that briefly talks about Charlie’s achievements, but it is necessary to delineate them a little here for the young project managers since the whole purpose of this article is to point out that the person that takes the least amount of credit can be the one that makes or breaks your project.

Charlie got involved with the Wright Brothers around 1898 when the brothers brought him jobs to do when Charlie had a machine shop in Dayton, Ohio.  In fact, Charlie produced bicycles, having something very much in common with the Wright Brothers.  After a while, and changing a few jobs, Charlie was offered a job with the Wright Brothers repairing bicycles in 1901.  It was there that Charlie helped the Wright Brothers build their first airplane.

The Wright Brothers had the skill and knowledge to build kites but needed help with other areas such as engines and wind tunnels.  Charlie built a wind tunnel for the brothers, where they could test their kites, but more importantly, Charlie built the first aircraft engine for the brothers, with no prior knowledge of how to build an aircraft engine.  The brothers had asked automobile manufacturers for help with the engine, but they replied that they were too busy to undertake the endeavor.  By asking Charlie to do the work, it both energized Charlie, and made him the first to build an aircraft engine.  In fact, some of the designs that the Wright Brothers gave him were handwritten on paper.  Charlie had to interpret and machine the engine based on these designs – and did not with incredible accuracy.  He not only completed the engine from these drawings, he did so in 6 weeks!  Imagine the amount of effort that would go into something like this today?!

Once the engine was complete, the Wright Brothers realized that Charlie had produced something that exceeded their specifications for the same weight so they were able to add more weight to the air frame, allowing for more strength in the aircraft.  The aircraft was ready in the Spring of 1903 and flew on December 17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  The brothers were excited about the first flight and decided to move to Dayton for subsequent flights.  They picked an area and put Charlie in charge of the maintenance of the aircraft and facilities; which made him the first airport manager.

The Wright Brothers tried to sell the aircraft to the military and in 1908 Orville flew with a military officer (Charlie was slated for the flight, but the officer bumped him).  The flight crashed and the military officer, Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, died in the accident.  Charlie investigated the accident and reported the findings to the Wright Brothers.  He was the first to investigate an aircraft accident.

In 1911, Charlie was lent to an adventurer, Calbraith Perry Rodgers, who wanted to fly across the United States.  Charlie followed the flight in a special train, repairing and maintaining the aircraft to the point where there were only 3 original parts that were used- the rest had to be made again by Charlie.  This, according to the article, was a feat that has not been repeated. 

I will stop here because the rest of the story for Charlie is pretty sad, since he was the forgotten person in airplane history.  However, this story shows that someone who never demanded attention or recognition, was the most important person in a plan.  It was Charlie that allowed the Wright Brothers to fly their aircraft repeatedly; it was Charlie that maintained and made the parts so that the aircraft would fly; it was Charlie that helped others flying the aircraft; and finally it was Charlie that gave up his chance to fly to be the maintainer of the Wright Flyer.  The quote that says it all came from the article referenced above:

“In a 1948 interview Charlie said that he had ‘always wanted to learn to fly, but I never did. The Wrights refused to teach me and tried to discourage the idea. They said they needed me in the shop and to service their machines, and if I learned to fly I’d be gadding
about the country and maybe become an exhibition pilot, and then they’d never see me again.'” (taken from the same article as above: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/phl/local_more/media/CT%20Hist.pdf)
When you feel as if you are working your butt off and no one notices, or that you seem to be the lynch pin of the project team and are never recognized, think of Charlie Taylor.  He was the reason the Wright Flyer made it into the history books, and he almost died penniless and alone.  Your work will live on, but it is essential that you believe in yourself and keep sharing what you know with others.  Charlie might have made a great instructor on avionics or engine repair, but it seems no one saw that in him.  Ensuring that we recognize the talent in others and help them to achieve their goals is just as important as completing the project.  Remember Charlie!
Learn, Offer, Value, and Educate (LOVE)