University of Chicago Booth School of Business
How Kitty Hawk Changed the World
If you could be present at any event in time, what would it be and why?
(Please note: my assumption in answering this question is that we do not have the ability to "change history" and are simply observing a moment that is important to us.)
Given the opportunity to be present at any event in time, I would choose to be near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. On that gusty afternoon, Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully flew the first heavier-than-air vehicle 120 feet in twelve seconds. The Wrights' invention opened up an incredible opportunity for world-changing technological developments, a series of remarkable events that culminated less than 67 years later when Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon.
At Kitty Hawk, the Wright Brothers did more than fundamentally alter travel. The two bicycle mechanics ushered in a completely new era of interconnectedness among the world population. In many ways, Kitty Hawk was the birth of the globalization movement that has come to define the economic, political and cultural lives of humanity in the 20th century and beyond. Without air travel, information must travel by sea or by rail, taking weeks or months to arrive at its destination. How many university students would travel to Paris to study abroad if it took...
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