Was Lindberg really Lucky?

Charles Lindberg made the fist solo transatlantic flight in 1927.

He was called Lucky Lindy because he succeeded at something that was judged to be highly unlikely.  In fact, by analyzing prior experience you would give his solo trans Atlantic flight a ZERO likelihood.

So his flight was a freak occurrence.  A Black Swan.

Six years later, Italo Balboa led a group of 24 planes across the Atlantic.  By the 1940’s, flights across the Atlantic were a very regular thing.

Think about Lucky Lindberg when you imagine the next major catastrophe.  You may not be able to get the event right, but there will be something that never happened that will be significantly worse that we imagined.  And after it happens, there will be a few more larger events until events of that magnitude become commonplace.

Now instead of assigning that sequence a zero probability, figure out how to include that in your risk management system.

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2 Comments on “Was Lindberg really Lucky?”

  1. riskczar Says:

    To quote Amanda Ripley from her great book The Unthinkable (p. xvi): “Luck is unreliable”. http://riskczar.com/risk-quotes/

  2. Robert Arvanitis Says:

    Take the flip side of that process.

    Dirigibles crossed the Atlantic many times in the 1930s without incident. German engineering at its best. Lloyd’s of London, if asked to punt on insurance, might well have charged fairly little, just enough to bother writing the policy.

    But if you described this to a stranger in most neutral terms, how might they react to the very idea of 7 million cubic feet of highly flammable hydrogen, just a few yards about your head?!


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