This year, a helicopter developed by a team of young NASA engineers flew on Mars and became the first vehicle to fly successfully in the atmosphere of another planet. The technicians famously proclaimed the initial hop to be their “Wright Brothers moment,” and compared the Martian flight to the first sustained powered aircraft flight by Wilbur and Orville Wright in 1903. The eureka feeling of satisfaction stemming from such an accomplishment is difficult to describe to anyone who has never dreamed, planned, and surmounted obstacles to reach such a goal. I know that feeling.In 1972, just after graduating from high school in Highland Park, Illinois, along with my friends Louis and Marty, I spent most summer Sundays racing 15′ Albacore-class sailboats at our local sailing club on Lake Michigan. One day, Louis and I stumbled upon the book The Forty-Knot Sailboat, by Bernard Smith, buried in the stacks of the Highland Park Public Library. The book, published in 1963, discussed the theory of hydrofoil sailboats, including their history and predictions for the future. While only a handful of experimental hydrofoil sailboats had ever been built by 1970, Marty, Louis, and I were inspired by Smith’s book and decided to design and build our own prototype hydrofoil sailboat. Our initial hope was to develop a class of hydrofoil sailboats that could become popular for racing and high-speed day-sailing.Our budget was a mere $100. We were neither engineers nor boatbuilders, and high-tech lightweight materials such as carbon fiber had not yet entered the consumer market. Although these initial obstacles should have thwarted our plan, youth, idealism, and persistence kept us on track. We immediately set to work.

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