Tag Archives: skunkworks

Tinkering is like prayer

stealth fighterWhen he was kid, my dad turned on his model airplane engine in the garage to let it run a while and unwittingly splattered oil all over the walls. His dad, my grandfather, bawled him out.

The maiden flight was a failure. My dad was discouraged but kept tinkering. Eventually, he graduated from Berkeley and worked at Lockheed’s super secret skunkworks in Rye Canyon. He worked on the now-outmoded stealth fighter, which crashed in test flight and very nearly killed the pilot.

Eventually, the engineers got it right, and the strike plane was used against Iraq, its radar-evading technology confounded enemies. Tinkering won the day.

Tinkering reminds me of prayer, which people view as a waste of time. True, we Americans are very busy. But time spent with God is never wasted.

Prayer is like research and development, cutting edge change, because you are consulting the all powerful God.

The most advanced fighter was made by crashing

success through failureWhen my dad was young, he made a model plane. It crashed on its first flight. He went home discouraged.

But he kept tinkering with planes and eventually became and engineer at Lockheed’s secret skunkworks working on the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter. The project was dubbed “hopeless diamond” because fly-ability was made extremely difficult by the separate small faces of its surface that didn’t reflect enough radar to register on a screen.

The non-streamline surface made it so un-fly-able that it crashed on its first flight. I remember my dad couldn’t sleep for like a week from the stress. At the time, I of course had no idea about the ultra-secret project.

On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my dad’s example. How is success achieved? Through repeated failures. Failure is a stepping stone.