St. Louis Inspires Aviation Innovation
Making dreams fly
"I read 'The Spirit of
The book that supercharged Maryniak's ambition is about
Many pilots had died attempting the 5,800-kilometer flight. Lindbergh's lack of connection with prestigious aviation efforts led journalists to call him "the flying fool."
But financial backers from
Maryniak says Lindbergh's success opened the door for modern aviation.
"Within a year, the number of pilots in America triples, the number of airplanes quadruples," he said. "And the number of people buying tickets to go on commercial flights goes up 30 fold."
In the early 1990s, he and his friend, entrepreneur
"Everybody knew, quote unquote - that only
For start-up funds, Maryniak headed to where Lindbergh had gone 70 years earlier -
"I think in most cities, we would have been launched into space by the toe of people's boots, but not here in
In 1996, the head of
More than two dozen national and international teams entered that first XPRIZE competition. In 2004, the Scaled Composites company won with a plane named SpaceShipOne.
Since then, many companies have designed better ways to fly people and cargo into space. Other XPRIZES have spurred innovations ranging from more fuel efficient cars to oil spill cleanups. A current prize challenges entrepreneurs to put robots on the moon.
These days, the XPRIZE headquarters are in
"There's nothing special in the water in places like
Maryniak travels frequently, looking for other communities ready to tackle possibilities just out of view, with an XPRIZE.
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