July 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 3 
Special Features

Who’s afraid of risk?Who's afraid of risk?

"Genius is divine perseverance." -Woodrow Wilson

In a popular culture that says there's nothing like success, can failure ever be an option?

Absolutely, say scientists and engineers involved in advanced research and development. They say that testing setbacks are not only likely, but are also an important part of the learning process that leads to ultimate success. Hence, where breakthroughs are desired, calculated risk taking must be encouraged.



From defeat comes victory

History is replete with risky proposals and so-called failures that later turned into successes-either as new systems and products, or as technologies adapted for other advanced programs. Here are some of them:

  • The Wright brothers experienced a number of failures before aviation was born with the first flight of their aircraft in December 1903.


Hail to the Red Phantoms

Hail to the Red PhantomsTo recognize teams that take risks, suffer setbacks, and take what they learn to improve Boeing's chances for future success, Phantom Works has established a special recognition program: the Red Phantom Award. So far, there have been two recipients:

The X-50A Dragonfly team

This team was selected for the award in May after one of the two Canard Rotor/Wing technology demonstrators, the X-50A Dragonfly Unmanned Air Vehicle, was damaged on March 23 at the Yuma Proving Ground, the military test range in southwest Arizona. At the time, Gary Gallagher, Director of Phantom Works in Mesa and CRW Systems, said: "So we sometimes have setbacks, but we apply valuable 'lessons learned' to future efforts." An ongoing investigation is working to determine the cause of the mishap and its impact on the program.



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