It happened today - June 15, 2016
According to George Bernard Shaw, “Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.” Which brings me to Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, copilot of the first-ever manned flight on November 21, 1783, in a hot air balloon. What could go wrong?
Well, I could have the wrong date for my “It Happened Today.” But I don’t, because the actual answer to my question is that barely a year and a half later he was killed in… a hot air balloon, along with one Pierre Romain, who achieved mortality by sharing the distinction of being the first known victim of an air crash with Rozier.
Arguably the latter wasn’t a good candidate for life insurance anyway. Earlier, he had tested the flammability of hydrogen in the most obvious way anyone could think of, namely to take a big mouthful, blow it across an open flame, and bid a fond farewell to his eyebrows.
I’m all for courage and daring. But I personally prefer to have a parachute and, I don’t know, asbestos eyebrows? A face mask? No wait. I know.
Judgement. That’s what you need.
And a parachute.