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In just over a century, air travel has made HUGE advances. It's pretty amazing, if you think about it.

The first successful airplane flight took place on Dec. 17, 1903. That wasn't that long ago! Flying is now such a normal activity that it's more shocking when someone hasn't been on a plane.

But think about it: Flying is incredible. And the fact that so many of us take for granted our ability to lift off into the sky in a large metal contraption and get across the world in a matter of hours is even more incredible.


Image via Alan Wilson/Flickr.

To get to where we are today, many people risked and lost their lives for the sake of pioneering air travel.

These people were total renegades, and their actions went down in the history books. They're the ones who made it possible for us to view flying with such nonchalance today. They laughed in the face of the naysayers and accomplished the impossible.

Here’s a look at five of these pioneers, why what they did matters — and why they’re so darn awesome.

1. Charles Lindbergh

Image by John M. Noble/U.S. Library of Congress.

Charles Lindbergh was the first person to fly across the Atlantic. Without stopping. Alone. Now, this was a huge deal. People had died trying to complete this task; the technology was too new and too unreliable. But he was convinced that if he had the right plane, he'd be the one to make it. He was right.

"A pilot was surrounded by beauty of earth and sky. He brushed treetops with the birds, leapt valleys and rivers, explored the cloud canyons he had gazed at as a child. Adventure lay in each puff of wind." — Charles Lindbergh


2. Wiley Post

Image via Frank Griggs/Smithsonian Institution.

In 1931, Wiley Post and a navigator flew around the world, the first to do so. Two years later, he did it solo and faster. In addition to his record-breaking flights, he also developed the first pressure suit and helped develop the technology that created autopilot, a convenience that so many pilots today take for granted.

Flying, for him, wasn’t without its challenges. He readily hopped into these still-developing and rapidly evolving aircraft in spite of the fact that an oil field accident had cost him his left eye. In fact, he used the settlement money to purchase his very first aircraft.


3. Amelia Earhart

Image via U.S. Library of Congress.

Amelia Earhart is a legend for so much more than flying. She was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic — the same task Charles Lindbergh completed five years earlier — and only the second person to do so. She took on this challenge not only as a pilot and adventurer, but as a woman, a detail that only added to the resistance she faced and the voices telling her it was impossible — women weren’t supposed to be daredevils. She blazed a lightning trail for the women who followed, showing it’s OK to want to do the impossible with no apologies.

"I want to do it because I want to do it." — Amelia Earhart


4. Diana Barnato Walker

Image via U.K. Ministry of Supply/Wikimedia Commons.

Before making aviation history, Diana Barnato Walker had already established herself as a formidable female pilot. A South African heiress, Diana left what could have been a life of leisure behind to become a member of the Atagirls, a group of women who were part of the Air Transport Auxiliary during World War II. Years later, she became the first woman to fly faster than the speed of sound. A fellow Atagirl broke her record in 1964 — one pioneering woman pilot raises the bar for the other — so she hopped back into a plane and raised the record to 1,429 miles per hour. She was fearless, and for her, flying was simply fun.


5. Barrington Irving

Barrington Irving (right). Image via Kendrick Meek/Flickr.

As recently as 2007, there was still one pretty major "first" to be conquered in air travel. Barrington Irving became the first black pilot — and youngest — to fly solo around the world. We know that representation matters, so this accomplishment by a totally regular working-class young man who loves aviation sent waves of inspiration throughout his community in Miami and beyond. Upon landing he said:

"Everyone told me what I couldn't do. They said I was too young, that I didn't have enough money, experience, strength, or knowledge. They told me it would take forever and I'd never come home. Well ... guess what?"

Guess what, indeed.

It takes a pretty bold person to say "I'll be the first." Especially when lives are on the line. But that spirit is what pushes humanity forward.

These are just a few of the people who stepped up to the plate, and their actions helped to shape a revolutionary industry. They weren’t daunted by the very real challenges that they faced, from oppressive sexism to physical disabilities. They wanted to fly, and nothing could get in their way. And their passion? Well, it helped to change the world.

Image via Lenny DiFranza/Flickr.

The next time you're sitting in a crowded airport, impatiently trying to get from point A to point B, take a second to think about these trailblazers and how their legendary actions made the impossible possible.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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