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Season 14 | Episode 8

Defying Odds

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Lincoln Beachey Lincoln Beachey (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-55137/

Being the first (and best) at something means taking on a big hunk of risk and pushing yourself to dangerous limits. This week, stories of fool-hardy flipping and daring-dos. First, the rise and fall of a pilot whose aeronautic feats changed aviation forever.  Then, we meet a figure skater who pulled a thrilling move at the Olympics that no one else (as far as we know) has ever done in all of human history. 

Comments [5]

Cordell Boone from Albany, New York

Surya was definitely a bleep on the radar of figure skating and the likes of her flair will never be seen again. Although she represented France in the competitions, I saw her as the first representative “black” skinned woman In figure skating. Listening to the story, I remembered seeing THAT performance. But it never hit me so emotionally before as it did today. The setup of hearing her skate that last skate, my visioning her setting up for that backwards flip (holding my breathe) again and I see her lauch up, facing the radio, as I had the tv 20 years before, but now my heart leaps, as she does and something squeezes my heart, and tears flow down my face, as she lands on one foot and holds the land. The sound of the crowd going crazy and my sobbing intermingles.

These words come to my mind as I type this: “Give me one moment in time, when I could be more than I could be, and all of my dream are a heart beat away and the answers are all up to me. Give me one moment in time as IM racing with DESTINY.


Thank you for this story and the others in this episode.

Glad that radiolab was the first thing that I heard this first day of 2018, when I turned on the radio to my public radio station WAMC 90.3 FM in Albany, New York.

Cordell Boone
Albany, New York

Jan. 01 2018 02:51 PM
Kattie from Dayton, Ohio

Loved your show (as always). I remember rooting for Surya and being disappointed in the judging. I appreciate all of the points that were made during this show, but I want to say this about the closing marks that she didn't really change things... I want to say, "yeah, but she inspired me."
Thank you,

Dec. 30 2017 02:08 PM
Karen Thomas from Pulaski, Va

A very moving podcast that we happened upon- so grateful for npr no matter here you find yourself!!
Comparing the daring odds of skill and confidence - gives meaning to a simple day!!
Thank you!

Dec. 28 2017 10:18 PM
Gabe L

Confusing uploads. Why are there two different links to podcasts with different some different episodes?

One link ( has longer episodes, which includes stuff that is not in the other link (

This is upsetting because it means I've already missed a few things and to listen to them would mean I would have to listen to the hour long episodes within which are stories I have already heard. Confusing.

Nov. 27 2016 08:15 PM
Olivia Korringa from Old Tappan, NJ

My Grandfather, William Knox Martin, also created the flying stunts. Famous for being hired by Boeing to be his test pilot and chief flying instructor. He flew in WWI and is famous in Colombia for airmail establishment and first to fly over rhe Andes. Great to hear of another pioneer aviator. I would live to be in touch with your guest.

Nov. 26 2016 12:12 PM

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