One with alligators.
More importantly, Chanute developed collaborative relationships with his contemporaries, freely sharing knowledge with the hopes that someone, anyone, would finally get a plane up in the air. One of those aviators, Percy Pilcher, actually took Chanute's design of the first triplane and built one but tragically died in a glider accident days before he could test the plane out. Which was a shame, because over a hundred years later, some British university students reconstructed the plane and flew it for over a minute. Which means that Octave Chanute probably designed the world's first functioning airplane, four years before the Wright brothers flew theirs.
So, one year after Chanute designed a plane that would have flown had it been tested, the Wright brothers contacted him for advice. Octave not only gave them beaucoup advice, he practically became their champion for the next few years. He publicized their experiments, visited them, exchanged hundreds of letters with them and pretty much legitimized their work to the rest of the aviation community.
Oh, and they modeled their glider after his designs.
Also, we're not sure, but we think KFC may have stolen his image for Colonel Sanders.
And as a measure of their thanks for all his help, the Wright brothers became intensely secretive about their methods and designs, patenting everything and scrambling to secure government contracts before anyone stole their ideas. While Chanute did everything he could to promote the work and efforts of others, even investing up to $100,000 of his own money in his and others' experiments, the Wrights subscribed to the "gotta get mine" philosophy of aviation innovation.
And for that, Octave Chanute practically disowned them. In 1910 Chanute died, beloved within the aviation community, unknown outside it. Meanwhile, the Wright brothers got so famous that 100 years after their biggest flight, they were played by the Wilson brothers in the 2004 Jackie Chan vehicle Around the World in 80 Days.
It could probably have been worse, but we're not quite sure how.
#3. Edmund Hillary's Sidekick, Tenzing Norgay
We're starting to suspect that being a success is five percent inspiration, and 95 percent not having a ridiculous-sounding name. Too bad for Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa guide of famous Mount Everest climber Sir Edmund Hillary, that one of those elements was not in his favor.
Where do you even buy a suit like that?
In 1953, Norgay joined John Hunt's 400-member strong Everest Expedition as one of the 20 Sherpa guides. And it was a good thing, too. Tenzing had already attempted to mount Everest in six previous climbs so he was by far the most experienced of the climbers, and was chock-full of lifesaving tidbits that came in handy as the expedition wore on. Like the time he saved Edmund Hillary from certain death when Edmund fell into a crevasse and Tenzing quickly used an ice ax to secure his rope. From that moment forward, Sir Edmund Hillary made Tenzing Norgay his mountain buddy of choice.
The two were such a good team that it was a no-brainer when Hunt picked them to do the last little climb to the summit. In fact, the only picture of their feat was taken by Hillary of Norgay at the top:
... because Tenzing didn't know how to use a camera and the summit of Mount Everest was no place to get a photography lesson. For their success, Sir Hillary was knighted, given India's highest civilian honor, put on the New Zealand five-pound note and made an honorary citizen of Nepal.