Amelia Earhart II

Lead: Her name was famous around the world and not just for her epic flying accomplishments. She was a consummate believer that women had an equal place with men, and then over the Pacific in 1937 Amelia Earhart was lost.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Though she grew up in a more conventional Victorian era, Earhart was in spirit a child of the twentieth century. A strong promoter of women’s rights, from childhood she had participated in those arenas usually reserved for boys and then men. She believed that notions of retiring femininity were outdated and everything she did paved the way for women to follow: athletically, professionally, and personally. Her position on the faculty of Purdue University, advising on aeronautics and women’s career opportunities, allowed her to influence a new generation of women leaders.

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Amelia Earhart I

Lead: Among pioneer aviators, only Charles Lindbergh exceeded the fame and accomplishments of Amelia Earhart. She was a model and inspiration for millions, including millions of women.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Born in Victorian-era Kansas in 1897 of a prosperous family, Earhart early on demonstrated an independent spirit, an inclination toward adventure, and robust imagination. She refused to be trapped in the usual roles reserved for girls and then later women, playing a variety of sports and showing a remarkable curiosity about all things mechanical. Yet, Earhart read voraciously and had little difficulty succeeding in the affairs of the mind.

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George Westinghouse II

Lead: Aware of repeated and often deadly railroad accidents, George Westinghouse developed the air brake.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: At first Westinghouse tried to harness the steam generated by the locomotive, but found that by the time steam reached the rear of the train it had begun to condensing thus losing its power to force the brakes. His solution came while reading a magazine article describing the construction of the huge railroad tunnel through Mont Cenis in the Italian Alps. Instead of generating steam deep in the mountain for drilling which would eat up precious oxygen, engineers compressed air on the outside and pumped it to the tunnel face. Westinghouse applied the same principle to stopping trains, some of which were dozens of cars in length.

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George Westinghouse I

Lead: On a dark February night in 1871, the chief engineer of the New York Central's crack Pacific Express, Doc Simmons, peered beyond a rounded bend south of Poughkeepsie, New York and saw disaster coming and could do absolutely nothing about it.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Everything was executed precisely. Simmons blew the emergency whistle. Trainmen between each of the passenger cars went to their stations. The icy handles began to turn. The brakes began to bite. Too little. Too late. A wrecked freight train lay tumbled across the small drawbridge just ahead. The Pacific Express, its useless brakes complaining loudly, drove through the oil-filled tank cars and pitched into Wappinger Creek. The tanks ignited. Thirty people died including Doc Simmons. Pity. Had the New York Central not been so cheap, Simmons would surely have been able to save lives that night. Already available was a device so effective that it was to revolutionize the railroad industry. In the public outcry following the Wappinger Creek disaster, New York Central and most other major lines began to equip their passenger stock with an invention by a little-known engineer. It was the air brake. His name was George Westinghouse.

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Suez Canal III

Lead: Facing almost universal skepticism, the Suez Canal Company under Ferdinand de Lesseps raised the money and dug the Canal.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Prime Minister Palmerston of Britain called him a swindler and a fool. Bankers such as Baron de Rothschild rejected his pleas for capital. Yet, de Lesseps succeeded against all odds. Raising money from small investors and operating with a design approved by the International Commission for the Piercing of the Isthmus of Suez, he broke ground in 1859 near the future Port Said. It took ten years to construct the canal. At any given point 30,000 workers were employed often under harsh, forced conditions. More than a million were so engaged and thousands of laborers died on the project. Progress was often delayed by labor disputes and the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, but in the end the canal was completed primarily due to the importation of giant French-designed steam shovels and dredges.

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The Great Eastern

Lead: In November, 1857, Isambard Kingdom Brunel tried to launch his magnificent creation. Great Eastern, the heaviest object anyone had ever attempted to move, got stuck.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Brunel was one of the most successful engineers of his day. He constructed what was at that time, the world’s longest tunnel, several unusual railroad bridges, and finally, Great Eastern. Conceived as the first luxury liner, the ship was designed to carry 4,000 passengers in complete comfort, haul enough coal for a non-stop round-trip from England to Australia, and earn her inventors’ money back in a couple of years. No such luck. No profit was ever made with Great Eastern.

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Crash of the Hindenburg III

Lead: Expanded to huge dimensions and filled with highly flammable hydrogen gas, German airships became an important element of Hitler’s propaganda machine.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 one of the most important champions of the German Airship was Hitler's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. The Fuhrer himself was not impressed and refused to set foot in a dirigible, feeling them a creation contrary to nature. Without Goebbel’s enthusiasm the Zeppelin program would probably have died since the construction of a large airship was as costly as that of a heavy battleship.

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Crash of the Hindenburg II

Lead: Used as bombers during World War I, giant German lighter-than-air ships called Zeppelins were turned to commercial uses in the 1920s and 1930s.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: If one wanted to travel between continents in the early 1900s, there was one choice. You had to go by ship. While the dream of flight had been realized first by balloons and then by the Wright Brothers’ airplane, aircraft engines were not strong, efficient, or safe enough to lift cargo and passengers over long distances. For just over two short decades from World War I to the eve of World War II, the dirigible seemed to be the solution to fast intercontinental travel.

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