69 years ago today, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. It happened on a clear Autumn day in 1947, 40,000 feet over the Mojave Desert in Southern California. Yeager rocketed 662 miles per hour in a small aircraft. He was the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound, something few people thought was possible. That was a monumental day in the history of flight. It was also another example of how conventional wisdom can be wrong; that something seemingly impossible is not. That’s the American spirit at work!
Because of the strategic significance of this event, the news was kept secret for nearly a year. That seems nearly impossible today, where speed and secrecy rarely mix. Some people tend to post anything and everything on social media. Others are very guarded with private information. The fact is, everything that can be made public usually does, whether it was intended or not. It is certainly a primary issue with both Presidential candidates in this election.
In this hyper-connected world today, information travels far faster than the speed of sound. But knowledge doesn’t. Events occur, and people often react without fully understanding the issues. We also live in an age of instant gratification, where longer-term thinking lacks patience. Cable news and the web thrive off it. Without a clear focus on the big picture, it’s easy to get mired in short-term issues. This is one of the reasons why Market volatility picks up. That’s precisely where opportunities present themselves for investors who do their homework and are prepared.
The key in our world as investors is to develop a plan, anticipate developments, process information and act accordingly. Markets move faster than ever today, for better and for worse. We constantly have to filter out news from noise. There’s so much of both right now. These are certainly challenging times. But realistically, times have always been challenging. When Yeager took flight that October day in 1947, it was on the heals of World War II and in the early stages of the Cold War, where tensions were sky-high for decades. Tensions today are high again, for some of the same reasons as back then, as well as new issues which have developed in the digital age. It’s all matter of fact and we deal with it. There’s no secret there.
At age 89, Chuck Yeager did it again. On the 65th anniversary of his record achievement, he flew faster than the speed of sound. That was 4 years ago today. Yeager was known for saying: “You don’t concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done.” Chuck Yeager is a big picture thinker. Most importantly, he is a doer. Chuck Yeager is a great American.
Enjoy the weekend. We will be back, dark and early on Monday.