Back in 1997, Steve Jobs challenged the world to “Think Different,” as he and his team of engineers invented a line of desktop computers that turned the industry on its head. Jobs was not only an engineer, he was a visionary, able to marry his intense quest for innovation with forward-thinking creativity. Great engineers can do that.
While Jobs led teams that invented products the public didn’t even know they wanted or needed, aerospace engineer George Bye and his team at Bye Aerospace are developing a product everyone in the aviation industry knows is coming: aircraft powered solely by electricity. Without making a direct comparison between Jobs and Bye, the parallels between these two visionaries are noticeable. Both knew their ideas would change their industries if they came to fruition and became widely accepted, and both knew those ideas would generate challenges deemed by many to be impossible to overcome.
And, like the early critics of the first iPhone—who said upon its release in 2007 that such a device would fail to alter the mobile industry and business users would never take it seriously—the concept of certified electric airplanes has, at times, received similarly harsh criticism.
“Those of us [who] are equal parts pioneer and entrepreneur face unbelievable challenges bringing something new and transformative to market because what we are doing is an unknown, it’s never been done before,” Bye says. “And as to the critics, there have been critics for all major inventions; it’s just human nature. The telephone, the automobile, the computer, even early airplanes were all target of skeptics. These commentaries serve as fuel to push myself to work harder, achieve more, and do things some in the aviation community think are not possible.”
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