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EP278: Robert Todd Lincoln: In His Father's Shadow, Don't Wear Slippers to a Job Interview and He Made Paper Airplanes His Full Time Job

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 26, 2022 3:00 am

EP278: Robert Todd Lincoln: In His Father's Shadow, Don't Wear Slippers to a Job Interview and He Made Paper Airplanes His Full Time Job

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 26, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, The History Guy tells us about the 16th President’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln. Joshua Texidor shares how it takes some time to find what we enjoy AND what we're good at. John Collins tells us how he achieved the Guinness world record for the farthest flight by a paper aircraft at 226 feet and 10 inches.

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Time Codes:

00:00 - Robert Todd Lincoln: In His Father's Shadow

13:00 - Don't Wear Slippers to a Job Interview

26:00 - He Made Paper Airplanes His Full Time Job

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I know pet grooming, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They're small business owners, too, so they know how to help you best. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. This is Jem. And Em. From In Our Own World Podcast. My Coutura Podcast Network and Coca-Cola celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with incredible content creators like Patty Rodriguez. I was born in East L.A., and I remember growing up, there was a small little shack in the apartment we lived at, and I would make that shack into a television studio. And there I would play pretend. I would pretend that I was a news reporter. And that's how I would spend most of my afternoons, pretending and imagining that one day I would be able to tell our own stories. Listen to Out of the Shadows, hosted by Patty Rodriguez and Eric Galindo on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by Coca-Cola, proud sponsor of the My Coutura Podcast Network.

Hispanic Heritage is Magic. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th.

If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage. It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. This is Lee Habib, and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show, from the arts to sports and from business to history. And everything in between, including your stories, send them to OurAmericanStories.com. They're some of our favorites. And all of our history work is brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College, by the way.

Go to Hillsdale.edu to sign up for their terrific and free online courses. And our next story comes to us from a man who's simply known as the History Guy. His videos are watched by hundreds of thousands of people of all ages over on YouTube. The History Guy is also heard here at Our American Stories. In this next story, the History Guy remembers the 16th president's son, Robert Todd Lincoln. Because of his father, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Todd's life has been largely forgotten.

Here's the History Guy. On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant following the defeat of the Confederate Army at the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse. The surrender documents were actually signed in the parlor of a home owned by a man named William McLean, and they were witnessed by both Grant and Lee's staff. The last survivor among those witnesses lived all the way until 1926, and by coincidence was a very famous person, one of the most important statesmen of his day. Robert Todd Lincoln was Abraham Lincoln's firstborn son and the only one of Abraham Lincoln's children to survive to adulthood.

His younger brother Edward died of a fever at just the age of three. Robert grew up at a time when his father was practicing law on a circuit and thus was traveling, gone most of the time, and so their relationship was distant, not very close. Robert once noted that his most vivid memories of his father growing up was Abraham packing his saddlebags. By the time that Robert's father was elected president, Robert was attending Harvard University.

He described his fathers being so busy that they scarcely had ten minutes quiet time together during his entire presidency. Robert graduated Harvard in 1864 and briefly attended law school there, but he felt compelled to join the Union Army and share the risk that everybody else was taking. At first his mother resisted.

His little brother Willie had died in the White House of a fever in 1862, and his mother, Mary Todd Lincoln, feared that she could not withstand another loss. But Robert eventually prevailed, and his father asked General Grant if Robert could be assigned to his staff. Robert was made an assistant adjutant and given the rank of captain, and that is why he was present to witness Lee's surrender. Robert had traveled to Washington to visit his parents on April 15th, and his parents invited him to go to the theater with him. But he declined.

He had been traveling on horseback all day and needed a rest. And so Robert narrowly missed his father's assassination. Robert moved with his mother and his younger brother Ted to Chicago, and he continued his law studies. He was admitted to the bar in 1867. In 1868 he married the daughter of a United States senator.

They had three children. In 1876 Robert was elected town supervisor of the town of South Chicago, a town that was eventually absorbed into the city of Chicago. That was his only elected office of his career. In 1877 he was offered the position of Assistant Secretary of State by President Rutherford B. Hayes, but he declined, although he remained active in Republican politics. And then in 1881 he accepted a cabinet appointment as Secretary of War in the new cabinet of President James Garfield.

He was with Garfield in the train station in July of 1881 and witnessed Garfield's assassination. Robert continued to serve as Secretary of War in the cabinet of President Chester A. Arthur, where he was involved in many military reforms. He left the position in 1885. And then in 1889 he was appointed to the important position of Minister to the United Kingdom under President Benjamin Harrison, where he served for four years. When he returned to the United States he became General Counsel of the Pullman Palace Car Company, the world famous maker of railway cars. And when the founder, George Pullman, died in 1897, Robert was made President of the Pullman Car Company.

He served in that position until 1911 when he left due to ill health, but he stayed on as Chairman of the Board until 1922. Despite his very accomplished life, Robert Todd Lincoln is often remembered for three things. The first was a coincidence. Somewhere in 1863 or 1864, Robert Todd Lincoln was riding a train from New York City to Washington, D.C. and while in Jersey City, New Jersey, he was bumped off a train platform, landing in the dangerous spot between the platform and the train. A stranger reached down and pulled him out, and when Robert looked up, he realized that his savior was the most famous actor of the day, a man named Edwin Booth. Only later did Edwin Booth find out that the young man that he had saved was President Lincoln's son, and that is said to have offered Edwin Booth some solace, as he was personally devastated when his younger brother, John Wilkes Booth, murdered President Lincoln. Second, in 1875, Robert had his mother, Mary Todd Lincoln, committed to an asylum. He was concerned about erratic behavior after the death of his younger brother, Tad, at the age of 18.

Mary was able to get some letters out to her attorney who was able to convince Robert to let her leave the asylum and live with her sister, but it included some public embarrassment for Robert, and he and his mother never fully reconciled. And finally, Robert Todd Lincoln is sometimes described as being somewhat unlucky because of his proximity to three presidential assassinations. He just missed his father's assassination, he was there when James A. Garfield was assassinated, and he was just getting off a train going to visit President William McKinley when McKinley was shot in 1901.

He was there for three presidential assassinations because he was proximate to power during a tumultuous time. But Robert Todd Lincoln lived an extraordinary life. He was born poor and yet found great success and died very wealthy. He was an elder statesman. He was a leader in his party who was suggested as a candidate for president or vice president many times, but always declined. He was the president of one of the largest corporations in the country. He was, frankly, one of the most accomplished men of his era. His last public appearance was May 30th of 1922 when he appeared with President Warren G. Harding and former President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Howard Taft, at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial.

He passed away in 1926, just a few days shy of his 83rd birthday. And, darn it, he deserves to be remembered as more than just his father's son. And those words are true and spoken beautifully by the history guy. This is Robert Todd Lincoln's story.

Here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history, from war to innovation, culture, and faith, are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College, a place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses.

Go to hillsdale.edu to learn more. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit uhcmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot, and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. If you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try All-Free Clear Mega Packs. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs. My family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that All-Free Clear Mega Packs, they have your back.

Purchase All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. This is Our American Stories, and now we bring you a story from Joshua Texador. You can listen to his entire story at our website, ouramericanstories.com. It's a great one about overcoming hardship and taking responsibility for your life. Today we bring you a piece of his story that begins after Josh decided to own up on an alcohol dependency, move to Nashville, get married, and take his own life into his own hands. I got to Nashville on a Sunday, and I had a job interview that Wednesday.

It was working that following Monday. And then I basically busted my ass ever since that day, and that was what we're talking about almost three years ago. So I interviewed for FedEx, United Postal Service, Unarmed Factory, and UPS.

I definitely went after the Postal Service because they're always hiring, so I knew I could get a job as soon as I got there from going to the postal office. And I hated it, hated it, hated it, hated it, hated it. I hated it to the point where I said, I'm going to make enough money.

I will never, ever have to do this ever again. Being a package handler at a postal office distribution center sucks. It is the worst job ever. And then, you know, yes, I was making $16 an hour. When I tell you you're going to work for every single penny, you're going to earn every single penny from working as a package handler. And I was on one of the harder lines because they just see me, like I'm not a small guy, so I was on one of the toughest lines at the job site. So I was in charge of three and a half trucks. You got people who are responsible for like two trucks.

I have three and a half trucks. And when our belt got crazy, because there was a top and a bottom, so you have like local packages and you have like non-local packages, whatever. So when our local packages would fill up, I would have to stop loading my truck, go down on the bottom belt and help them load that part just for me to go back to the top of the belt and start loading my trucks again. Because the volume was getting so crazy, instead of going in at 3 in the morning, we were going in at 2 o'clock in the morning.

So from 2 o'clock in the morning to like 8 o'clock, I'm picking up boxes. No bathroom break, picking up boxes. And I'm just like, I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever do this again. And it wasn't so much that you couldn't go to the bathroom. I just knew if I went to the bathroom and came back, I was going to have to play catch-up. So I would purposely just not go. But I was like, I can't do this anymore.

And then I tried to get a manager job at Dunkin' Donuts. Terrible. I was there for two days. I said, I'm good. I'm good. I'm not doing this anymore.

So it's funny. I was in the post office and I was doing Dunkin' Donuts at the same time for those two days. So when I left on the second day, the very next day, I went to FedEx. There's a security company there.

It's called Allied Universal. So I started talking to them. I said, hey, man, like, how's that job? And they're like, yeah, it's good. You know, it's not bad.

And I'm looking at them and they're getting paid and not really doing much of anything. So I said, man, I should just go out and do that. And that day, I applied for Allied Universal. The hiring process went on. The hiring process was great. Well, for me, it was great.

I think it's hysterical. The day in my interview. So in the paperwork, in the application, it says, you know, you need to be clean-shaven and, you know, you need to look presentable. So I went out, got a haircut. I had a full beard, cut the whole beard off.

I was clean-shaven. And, you know, in my mind, it's an interview. So I have, you know, I got a button-up shirt, a tie.

I got khakis and shoes on. I go to the building. I get to the building and I'm like, and I'm walking past the room that I'm supposed to go to, but in the room there's like a bunch of people. So I'm like, am I, I was like, man, I'm in the wrong place. So a lady who's sitting at a desk, she's like, hey, what are you looking for? I'm like, I'm here to apply for, I'm here for the Allied interview. And she's like, oh, you're in the right place. Man, when I tell you I'm the only person dressed up, I'm the only person dressed up in the entire room. I'm laughing at myself.

I'm like, yo, they cannot be serious right now. Like, who shows up like this for a job interview? I'm the only person dressed up. They had one girl in there with slippers, slippers. She had slippers on and SpongeBob pajama pants for a job interview.

I'm like, this girl's crazy. You know, and I get high like that day, and I guess from the way I presented myself and how I did my interview, I got a really good job site and I ended up getting, my job site was the Country Music Hall of Fame. It was, I don't want to say it was a learning curve. It was like when I first got there, so remember, this is all new to me. I think this is like the second or third month that I'm in Nashville, so I don't even know anybody, and I was going to quit. I was going to quit working security, and it wasn't so much that I didn't like the Country Music Hall of Fame. The leadership at the Country Music Hall of Fame for security, I was like, man, this is not good. Like it just seemed like people were just doing whatever they wanted. I was like, I don't know if I'm going to make it here, but remember, I'm determined and pretty much like they hired me as part time there, but I ate up so many hours from people not showing up, and plus they have events, so I was getting like 40 hours just off events and covering other people's shifts, and they end up, after three weeks of me really working hard, I got offered a supervisor position there, and I took it, and I became the first shift supervisor, and I definitely made some changes that weren't working because I like to do what works.

I mean people just say, hey, we've done this forever. I'm like, yeah, but what worked 10 years ago is not going to work today. I mean sometimes what happened last year is not going to work today, so you have to adapt to what's going on, so I made some changes myself and the actual site supervisor. We made some real strong changes, and we were working on just building a better culture and a better relationship from a security standpoint with the client, and the client would be the Country Music Hall of Fame, and I 100 percent believe that we did that, and I end up becoming the actual site supervisor of the entire thing and running a staff of over 30 people, handling time sheets, payroll, handling all the scheduling.

I think from my leadership there and from my hard work there, I've definitely built better relationships with the people that analyze universal security as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame, and like I said, reputation is everything, respect is everything, and I think I've earned my respect with people, and I think my reputation is longstanding with the people that I've had to work with through my experience there. I mean more than anything, your work ethic has to shine through. I mean, I myself, I was a site supervisor, and I was doing 60, 70 hours a week steady, and I'm doing that, but I'm also making sure that my other supervisors are taken care of. I'm making sure the new people are getting their hours. I didn't just take hours because I could just take all the hours.

I would literally let everybody eat, and then I would pick up the crumbs, but everybody was getting a piece, so everybody's happy. Everybody's making money. Everybody's comfortable. We changed the training at the Hall of Fame where it was more hands-on rather than how it was before. It was kind of like, you know, just figure it out, you know, and it was, I mean, it was a really, really great experience for me to be there, and like when I was a site supervisor, anybody who came in who didn't have a car, I made sure, I made sure. Like we got a lot of young people, like, you know, people fresh out of high school or people in college who didn't have cars. All those people who came who were like young people who didn't have cars, I made sure they all got cars, and that was like a big thing for me was at least helping young people, you know, get their accomplishments and at least pushing them along rather than saying, yeah, you work here, whatever, you know. So I actually take pride in that.

And you've been listening to Josh Texador, and we were all wondering what would happen to Josh because my goodness, he had grown up right before our eyes in the first story, and Josh Texador's story here on Our American Stories. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot, and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time-consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try All-Free Clear Mega Packs. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that All-Free Clear Mega Packs, they have your back.

Purchase All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we continue with our American stories. Up next, we have the story of John Collins. He holds the Guinness World Record for the farthest flight by a paper aircraft at 226 feet, 10 inches. To learn more about him, visit ThePaperAirplaneGuy.com. Here is John sharing how he came to love paper airplanes so much that they are now his full-time career. I started probably about the age that most people start thinking about paper airplanes. You know, eight, nine, made the same kind of basic dart design most people make. You fold the piece of paper in half and fold the corner down three more times or two more times, so it's a total of three folds down. And you end up with this kind of dart-shaped plane that kind of flies.

It flies okay the first couple of flights and then it starts like unfolding itself and coming apart and the nose gets crunched and it's not a very good paper airplane. So, we started kind of tinkering around, me and my brother. I had three brothers around the same age and we would, you know, kind of tinker around with changing the design here or there. And then my mom knew how to do this really cool origami base called a water bomb base. And that's where you make a big X in the page and then flip it over and fold the other direction. And then this thing all collapses down into a triangle that's got, you know, flaps on top and center of gravity is automatically moved forward because you've got all these layers in the front of the plane.

It's just this magic base. I continually invent planes even to this day using this origami base, this water bomb base. How my mom knew how to do that, I have no idea.

But she did know how to do that and showed it to us. And, you know, from that moment on, I was off and running on making paper airplanes. And I was just, I think, just a little bit better than my siblings at folding paper accurately and sharply and, you know, remembering folding sequences and stuff. And so, I could see that this was a little bit of a success niche for me. You know, the world record idea came along pretty soon after I started folding a lot of designs. I started going, you know, pushing as far as I could with inventing, you know, folding techniques on my own and trying to figure stuff out. And then around the fourth grade, I think it was a substitute teacher brought an origami book in and she was going to lead the class through making an origami crane, which there's too many complicated things about an origami crane to get through that for a fourth grade class. And so, it was a complete and utter disaster.

She finally gave up and turned us loose for recess. But I got a look at this book. It was a book by Harbin. And it had all of these things in it that I thought that I had invented and just done way better. It was like the smart way to do it. You know, reverse folds and sink folds and pedal folds and all this, you know, this whole world of folding ideas and techniques and tools kind of opened up suddenly. And then I started making planes with that. And I made planes for another, you know, 10 years using all these kinds of folding techniques and a little bit longer. And about the time that I had a really solid collection of planes and I felt really good about a couple dozen of these planes. At that point, I'm kind of starting to think that maybe a world record would be something to go after. But I hadn't, you know, hadn't seriously considered, you know, finding a venue and doing all the things necessary to do it.

And it's kind of a big, cumbersome undertaking. And so, it would really be like another 25 years before I really seriously was looking at, you know, who's selling more books? How can I make my book sell more? How do I get, you know, how do I get to the top? How do I get to the A-League for this thing? And it turned out that the world record was kind of your way in.

This was the way you were going to really prove that your stuff is the best, that you could, you know, get people to pay attention. I had all this hubris and I was pretty sure that all I needed to do is find a guy who could throw really hard. Because, you know, I can throw okay. I could throw, you know, 100 feet. But to really throw hard, you know, to break the world record, I knew I was never going to be able to throw that hard. So, finding somebody that could throw hard and watching them throw my planes. The planes pretty much just destroyed themselves under there with a really hard throw. And so, it was a very humbling experience watching what you thought was a great paper airplane really get the stuffing thrown out of it.

It was like, ooh, yeah, this is a different thing than I thought here. This is going to be a little more difficult. You assume that if you just find somebody who can throw hard, that's going to be, you know, the task.

That's going to be the real task. But the first guy that I worked with had such giant hands that you couldn't really tell how he was holding the plane. You know, he was grabbing it and throwing it really hard and you could, you know, the plane would go left and right. You know, he was kind of, you know, holding it too hard and kind of crunching it a little bit on the grip. And so, this was not going to be the guy. You know, I couldn't really tell what he was doing with the planes.

The second guy who was a college guy, he was, I think he's still a coach for SF City College. He has such an explosive, snappy throw that he was actually ripping the plane in half. Quarterbacks kind of start with the ball pointed the opposite direction that they're going to throw.

And then they spin, they twist their wrist and it's kind of an explosive, really quick moment. And so, this guy had such a snappy throw. He was tearing planes in half and so I'm just like, there's got to be somebody else.

And so, then I found Joe. The guy who ended up being pretty much the perfect person to work with for paper airplanes because he had already changed his throw once for his sports. And so, he went from being a baseball pitcher to a football quarterback. And in doing so, he changed his throwing mechanics to match the sport. So, Joe, not like these other guys were going, I know how to throw a football really hard and I'm going to just throw the paper airplane like I throw the football. Joe approached it from, how do I throw the paper airplane hard? This is how I throw a baseball hard, this is how I throw a football hard, how do I throw a paper airplane hard?

And so, he just had this whole different kind of top-down idea that the other guys just didn't have. And so, you know, he worked on launching, moving his elbow down so that the plane would be level when it launched. And then worked on smooth acceleration because paper airplanes don't like going 90 miles per hour and they really don't like going from zero to 90 fast. And so, these were kind of two big keys that Joe worked on, you know, launch, angle, and release.

And let's accelerate as smoothly as we can to get as fast as we need to go. So, the old world record for paper airplane distance was 207 feet and 4 inches. That record holder held that record for a little less than 10 years, nine and a half years, which is almost a...

I think now that I'm thinking about it, it's about as long as I've held the record at this point that Joe and I have held the record. Steven Krieger and the two guys before him had both used a very particular kind of plane that you could think of more like a javelin. You could think of it like a ballistic dart. That plane would get thrown at a 45-degree angle, it didn't matter whether it stayed right side up or upside down on the flight. And it really didn't fly so much as just travel in a straight line. Actually, we tried to throw that kind of a plane and Joe really couldn't throw a projectile that far.

And so, you know, a lot gets made of the idea that I used a thrower and then people say, oh, you're riding a ringer and it's no, you know, no wonder you could break the old world record. Steven had a really good arm and he did it when he was 15. And I think you have more cartilage in your arm according to people who throw stuff. And so, his arm was a little more flexible. Joe had told me a couple of times, hey, you know, if we had done it when I was 15, I probably could have thrown the projectile that far. But he couldn't at, you know, the age of 25 or 26, he couldn't throw a projectile that distance. And so, we changed the kind of plane to a glider.

That ended up being a really great decision, but it makes it so much more difficult to control down range. And so, it became this real challenge of the accuracy and precision with which Joe could throw the plane. And then the same sort of accuracy and precision with adjusting this glider to do different things at different speeds in the flight.

That's where we really dialed this thing in. And you're listening to John Collins tell the story of how he came to break the Guinness World Record for the farthest flight by a paper aircraft. And I love this about Americans. We love our hobbies, we love our pastimes, and we love just, well, setting records, going faster, and trying all kinds of things. From the Wright brothers to John Collins, flight fascinates.

When we come back, the story of the paper airplane guy, here on Our American Story. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCMedicareHealthPlans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot.

And I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So, if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So, the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we continue with our American stories and we've been listening to John Collins, the Guinness World Record holder, for the farthest flight by a paper aircraft at 226 feet and 10 inches. By the way, the old record of 207 feet, 4 inches, had been held for 10 years and he shattered it, not even close.

Back to John on how he attained this amazing feat. Guinness rules are really specific about everything, like paper size, paper thickness. You can use a little tiny piece of tape, 25 by 30 millimeters. You can cut that into as many pieces as you like.

I ended up cutting into 16 pieces and putting it all over the plane. They weren't specific about whether or not you personally, the designer, had to throw the plane. There was nothing in there about that. And predictably, the old world record holder did not like that idea, which led to a bit of a kerfuffle. He complained enough that we wound up on the cover of the Wall Street Journal. He was not happy with this idea of a designer thrower team. But Guinness seemed to like the idea. They thought it was cool. They thought it opens it up a little bit. If you've got a great idea for a paper airplane but don't have a terrific arm, there's no reason you should be locked out of this competition.

They thought it kind of broadened the idea. And they were really happy to see a paper airplane fly across the distance goal as opposed to just crash into it. That was really thrilling. And if you watch the old world record plane, it takes about three seconds to go the distance. My plane, you watch it climb. It rocks over the top and then flares and really flies. I mean, there's some drama. It's just like, is it going to crash? Is it going to stay on course? It takes nine seconds.

So there's definitely time to think about it if this thing is rocketing down course. And they liked all of that. They liked the idea that it was a designer thrower team. They liked the idea that it was a glider instead of a dart. And so I think Guinness loved this new approach.

It wasn't a traditional approach by any means. It was totally different. It was unique. And then there are unique things about the plane. Aerodynamically, this is one of the, well, I can say it's the most sophisticated paper airplane I've ever designed. Even though it's just really simple folding, the folding technique, I can teach you how to fold this plane in 10 minutes, but adjusting it to get world record distance out of it is complicated and fascinating. It turned out that around the same time NASA was doing experiments that would verify my suppositions about airflow and speed and this size wing.

So it ended up in a weird way getting verified. All the things that I was thinking and dreaming up that were happening on the wing of the plane ended up being real. I wasn't just in Never Never Land.

We had good experimental evidence to back up what I was thinking, but it was really cool to have all that verified by NASA. Well, getting the world record was about a three-year journey for me. And Joe was there, my thrower was there for the last 18 months of that.

So he was there for a little bit over half of the three-year deal. First glider that I folded ended up being the correct folding solution. There's a lot of other adjusting that goes on, but just the folding solution, the very first one out of the box was correct. Now, the problem is you don't know that. You still have to do all the testing, all the permutations, all the combinations, all the testing. You know, you can't know whether that's the right solution until you try all the other solutions. And so it feels like it should be a lucky thing.

But is it? You still have to do everything else. It didn't cut down on the amount of work in the long run.

You still have to do all the other stuff. We had made an unsuccessful attempt, August of 2011, and the record was set in February of 2012. And so coming off that August defeat, you know, my wife and other people were saying, you know, just take a break. Just think about it.

Try something else. You know, they were kind of cautioning, you know, don't do this too quickly again. Because, you know, it's not just me failing for myself. It's like, you know, you drag all your friends out there.

And, you know, they go through the heartache of watching you try your best and just not quite get there. And so anyway, World Record Day at McClellan Airfield was a whole different beast. Starting on January 1, as a matter of fact, in this new hangar, we didn't have a practice session where we didn't break the world record three out of 10 tries. You get 10 tries and you just have to break it on one of those throws. But we were doing it three out of 10 times, very consistently, once I really figured out what was going on with the plane. The drama wasn't whether we were going to break the record.

The drama for us was like, how much are we going to break it by? But given all that, you still have to do it that day with the press there, you know, with the video cameras rolling, with a guy that you've hired to do measuring because anything beyond 200 feet is not considered calibrated if it's a metal or cloth tape. So you have to have a surveyor. You hire a surveyor who can do a laser transit shot. You've got three camera guys that you hire that hopefully get this thing recorded in one take because Guinness wants, you know, one unedited take for this thing. And so you've got to have great camera guys. You've got to have media coverage. You've got to have a surveyor.

You've got to have judges that are qualified to do it. And then, you know, you just you want to have friends and family around to have a little celebration. So all of that pressure is, you know, no matter what kind of looming over the situation. And so we take probably two throws earlier than we should have. The throws one and two kind of probably pulled the trigger earlier than we should have.

Throw three is very good and throw four, we break the record. And that you can listen to the video. You don't even have to watch the video. You can listen to the video and know that it's going to happen. Joe releases it and right away I can tell it's going exactly where it should go.

And I'm going, you know, that that's going to do it. It flies up and goes over the top of that arc in exactly the same way that has our planes have broken the world record before and then starts its downhill run. You can hear the crowd start to get excited as that plane starts to make a downhill run toward the finish line. And then it lifts up with the last third to go and just goes flying across those rope lights that start lighting up and flashing. And then the crowd goes nuts. You know, confetti cannons get fired. We've done it. Throw number four, totally successful. The crowd goes nuts. It's everything you would want out of a world record moment. It's just it's it's a perfect moment. You know, it's something I'm incredibly proud of.

It took a lot of work and a different sort of work than I anticipated going in. You know, at the end of the day, a paper airplane world record that doesn't save the world. Nobody lives or dies. Nobody gets rich.

Nobody goes to the poorhouse. It's just this kind of goofy kind of fun thing. But even that kind of modest record world record idea attracts a certain amount of energy and a certain wave and a certain feeling that you can't really get any other way.

So I would you know, if people are out there listening and wonder, hey, you know, I'm pretty good at this. Should I try to you know, should I go big or go home? It's like go big is my advice.

You already know what it feels like to go home. Go big. You'll learn so much about yourself.

You'll learn so much about your friends. It's an important life moment. Whether or not you get it done doesn't matter.

Just deciding to go big on something is that's important. This opportunity for the last four or five years to be the paper airplane guy. You know, I throw paper airplanes for a living. Nobody on the planet has a better gig than I've got.

Even when I had a good job that I really liked, I didn't like it as much as this. It's just an incredible opportunity to meet, you know, young kids who want to learn a little something about paper airplanes and are curious about the science. And you're dealing with all these magical forces, really, you know, invisible stuff you can't see. You're dealing with gravity.

You're dealing with air thrust and drag. And you can't see any of this stuff. And some of it you kind of have to just take on belief. And so it's kind of I look at it as my job to sort of reveal, you know, the solid underpinnings of all these kinds of ideas and show them, you know, how it all works to create something that flies. What a gift to get to be able to do that, to be able to do this thing that I've been fascinated with. You know, the idea of something flying since I was just tiny. I mean, I watch insects and birds and full sized airplanes and all these things fly and they use different ways to do it and get to pass along that passion, that, you know, that fascination. You know, I've never lost track of the idea of how wondrous it is that things fly at all.

How did they manage to do it? And then, you know, the idea that you could take probably one of the most modest resources on the planet, just a sheet of paper and turn it into a flying machine. That's totally cool. And then the idea that you could transmit that knowledge to somebody else, that they could then do it and figure out how to, you know, make a different one, make an invent their own. And that's that to me, I love that moment when kids that I've worked with in the past send me a picture of a plane that they've invented that can do this really cool thing. It becomes this magic object that not only flies, but it came from them.

Some part of them is now in this object and it has joined this magic world of flight as well. So I get to do that. That's what I get to do.

I don't know how you get a better job than that. That's pretty good. And great work as always by our creative team and our storytelling team.

And that's Faith and Robbie and Madison working on that piece. And a special thanks to John Collins for sharing his passion and his story. Thepaperairplaneguy.com is where you can find him. I love the way he described Throw 4. I mean, he's just back there in 2012 and the record has stood all this time, folks, beating the 10-year record that held before then.

The story of the world record holder for paper aircraft flight. The story of John Collins here on Our American Story. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th.

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