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Common Stocks and Common Sense by Edgar Wachenheim III

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11 BOEING

When I become interested in a company, I usually like to read about the company’s history. Who started the company—and why and how? How did the company’s industry come into being? Histories can be informative, interesting, and sometimes entertaining. The way I look at it, the holdings in our portfolios are my career’s family members—and I would never agreeably marry a girlfriend without first learning about her background and meeting her parents.

From the earliest days of recorded history, we have evidence of man’s interest in flight, especially the flight of birds. If birds could fly, why couldn’t man? Imaginations ran. In Greek mythology, Daedalus used wax to attach wings of bird feathers to his son Icarus. Daedalus’s device worked, until Icarus disobediently flew too close to the sun, with exceedingly ill consequences when the sun’s heat melted the wax. Many centuries later, in 852 A.D., one Armen Firman tried to mimic a bird in flight. He constructed two wings out of vulture feathers, attached the wings to his arms, “flew” out of a tower in Cordoba (Spain), and promptly crash landed, injuring his back in the process. Then, in 1010, an English monk tried flying from a tower in the Abbey of Malmesbury. He broke both legs. Not to be deterred, in 1496 a man named Seccio attempted to fly from a tower in Nuremberg (Germany). He broke both arms. Thus, wax fasteners and tower jumping did little to advance the flight of human beings.

Leonardo da Vinci did advance the science ...

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