Risk Taking

Adrienne Bolland was the youngest of seven children.  She was a “wild child” to get attention in her large family.  In her young adulthood, she was a partier and gambler.  She fell heavily into debt and needed a job.

She decided to apply at Caudron, the first airplane manufacturer in France.  She became a
licensed pilot in two weeks and impressed her instructors.  But her wild side and stubbornness kept her in trouble.  In addition, she wanted to fly her own plane.  The founder of Caudron challenged her by agreeing to give her her own plane if she could fly a loop.  She did.

Adrienne was next challenged to fly over the English Channel.  She made the flight and became one of the few pilots to achieve the flight successfully.

Her next challenge was to become the first pilot to fly over the Andes from Argentina to Chili.  The plane she was given to fly had a maximum altitude of 14,800 feet where the Andes peak was 22,331 feet.  Also, the plane had no heat or windshield.

The night before the flight, a Brazilian woman who had never flown warned her about the flight.  She said that when she saw an oyster shaped lake to turn left towards a steep mountain.  Turning right she said, which would have been the safer decision at the time, would lead to her death.  Adrienne saw the lake, turned left and wound through the mountain village.  Although the blood vessels in her lips and nose burst, she made the flight successfully.  It was a leap of faith.

She continued to push the envelop of flight.  In many cases, she bested male pilots.  When World War II broke out, she joined the French resistance.

How do we know when risk taking is fool hardy or prudent?  Was Adrienne being foolish?  Risk taking also involves a matter of self confidence.  Adrienne had confidence and was stubborn enough to challenge herself.  Risk taking is also involving a continued quest for new challenges.  Risk taking is often a fear of regretting what might have been.  Finally, risk taking often requires a judgement of what they can do.  Risk takers have a higher threshold for assessing what is acceptable.

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                “There are risks and costs to action.  But they are far less than the long-range risks of
comfortable inaction.” – John F. Kennedy

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