Courage taking flight

“It feels like the hand of god has just lifted you off that launch pad, throwing you into space. You’re flying at 17,500 miles per hour. You have to force yourself to inhale and exhale. The sky is black. The three main engines cut off. Things are silent. All of a sudden, you’re floating in space.” 

This is veteran astronaut, Scott Kelly, describing how it feels to be propelled into space in a short-film televised at a recent NBA All-Star game.

I was so honoured to be featured alongside Scott and other flight pioneers to explore what it means to be the ‘first in flight’.

In the footage, aerospace engineer Tiffany Davis explains the four main forces at work when it comes to flying - weight, lift, drag, thrust.

As someone who is certainly not an engineer, I’d like to add a fifth element - courage.

Whether you’re leaping through the air in a slam dunk, launching a satellite constellation or propelling yourself into space in a commercial rocket ship – you need courage in order to soar.

Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two Test Flight - 3 commercial astronauts

The ability to fly has fascinated me since I was a young boy when it would consume my dreams.

I could be soaring around as Peter Pan, riding a magic carpet or floating in the basket of a hot air balloon – as soon as my hair touched the pillow, my head was in the clouds.

When I watched the first Moon landing from a tiny black and white screen television in 1969, I turned my attention to the stars.

I was in awe of the courage it must have taken, to take something seemingly impossible and turn it into a reality.

Richard Stargazing on Necker Island

This fascination with flying, breaking boundaries and exploring the great unknown has never left me.

Indeed, it has given me the inspiration and the courage to guide many of my business decisions - from Virgin Atlantic to Virgin Galactic.

Flying has taught me that so long as we have courage (as well as weight, lift, drag and thrust), we are truly infinite.

And in an ever-expanding universe, we need to always find the courage to ask, ‘what’s next?’

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