I only ever flew on Concorde once, coming back from New York.
We flew at Mach 2 which, to be honest, didn’t feel any different to me.
All I knew was that the windows were too tiny to look out of, and there were no movies.
To be honest, I preferred 747s.
But what did impress me was when they put the benefit into simple human language.
They explained we were flying faster than a rifle bullet.
Suddenly that was something I could understand, I couldn’t even see a rifle bullet, but I was flying faster than one, that’s an amazing fact.
In 1956, Tom Attridge was a test pilot.
He was flying one of the first supersonic jet fighters, the Grumman F11.
It had four powerful 20mm cannons, and he’d been told to test-fire them at top speed.
They needed to know what would happen when the force of all four guns started pushing against the plane at that speed.
How Newton’s Third Law (action and reaction are equal and opposite) would affect it, what stresses it would put on the airframe?
So over the Atlantic, he picked an empty piece of ocean and fired a four second burst.
The plane shuddered but seemed okay, time to take it up to the next level.
He lowered the nose and turned on the afterburner, it came on like a kick in the pants.
He fired another long burst of the cannons, the plane shuddered again, but then the windscreen shattered and the engine started to break up.
He throttled back, he turned the plane around and put it into a shallow glide and nursed it to within sight of his airfield.
He couldn’t quite make it so he crash-landed nearly a mile short, he shattered a rib and broke three vertebrae.
They investigated the plane and what they found amazed them.
It wasn’t the reaction to firing the guns that damaged the F11, it was hit by gunfire.
One cannon shell in the windshield, one in the nose-cone, and one in the engine intake.
The plane had been hit in the middle of an empty ocean, how was that possible?
Eventually they realised what had happened.
Tom Attridge had shot himself down.
It had never previously occurred to anyone that such a thing could happen, because they’d never had planes that flew as fast as bullets before.
After the first burst, Tom had put the plane into a dive and turned on the afterburner, then he fired another burst.
The plane’s speed made it overtake the first burst that he’d fired, he flew straight into three of his own 20mm cannon shells.
They had the basic technology which hadn’t changed in hundreds of years, guns.
They installed it into the latest technology which they hadn’t learned about yet, jets.
They were so enamoured with the new technology they ignored existing basic technology.
Which is exactly what happened in our business.
The basic technology in our business is communication with people.
But suddenly we had this new technology: digital.
We were so in love with it we forgot everything else, we were blind to communication (dinosaur thinking) and people (old-fashioned).
So we ran into what we ignored, communication with people, and shot ourselves down.
Which is why, according to eMarketer, 30% of all internet users now use adblockers.
That’s 3 out of every 10, and rising, mainly younger people.
In fact, to try to stop the problem, even Google has now launched its very own adblocker.
We’re shooting ourselves down by ignoring the basics.
Like Grumman and the F11, we’ll have to learn the hard way.