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A lesson from the museum of flight

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Follow your childhood passion while choosing a course of study and a career

A few months ago in Seattle, as I boarded a bus to reach the popular Museum of Flight in the city, a unique kind of joy danced within me. The dance was obvious and it was no surprise to me considering my passion for airplanes and flying. When I reached my destination, in Everett at the Boeing field where all Boeing planes are also tested, I raced with zeal towards the museum. 

Having learnt from the ticket desk that one can also explore several historical planes housed there, including a retired Air Force One, which was used by several U.S. Presidents, my exhilaration peaked. 

Here I saw the first-ever Boeing 747 made, the world’s first wide-body jet. Although I had seen the aircraft type at several airport tarmacs, it was for the first time that I was stepping into one. I also had the opportunity to know its story, thanks to the volunteers inside who led guided tours.  

The engineer who headed the 747 project, Joseph F. Sutter, died at the age of 95 in August 2016. Having grown up very close to the Boeing plant and the airfield, looking at the airplanes day and night, at a very young age he knew he wanted to design airplanes. Often with his elders, he came for tours at the plant. And with every visit his love for aviation grew. He took a degree in aeronautical engineering.  

In 1946, the world of Boeing, which had attracted him since childhood, gave wings to his dream. Many years later, when Boeing wanted to come up with a bigger passenger plane that could revolutionise the airline industry, Sutter was chosen as the lead engineer for the project. He was clear in his mind that he could make the Boeing dream come. His passion drove him. 

As expected, he fulfilled the dream and on September 30, 1968 the first Boeing 747 rolled out.  

Imagine, I was standing in the same airplane, engrossed in the live tour. The aircraft made its inaugural flight on January 22, 1970 from New York to London.  There was excitement across the world given the battery of benefits the 747 offered. A flood of orders for the plane kept pouring in from many airlines of the world. With this success, he was labelled the ‘Father of 747’. 

Even after his retirement, Sutter was regularly consulted by Boeing for many of its projects. Whenever he came to the plant, all the engineers were eager to meet him. He won several awards. There are many books on him that tell his story. He personifies the power of discovering and following one’s passion. 

Now, with board examinations under way, there will be many students, especially in Class 10 and 12, looking out for career options. Why not just concentrate on one’s passion? We should do what we love and not what others want us to do!  

Albert Camus, the French philosopher-writer, said, "Without work, all life goes rotten, but when work is soulless, life stifles and dies." 

rameshinder.sandhu@gmail.com

 

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 5:26:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/a-lesson-from-the-museum-of-flight/article22918935.ece

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