At just 15 years old John Goddard overheard a family friend express regret that he had not done more in his life. Determined to avoid this mistake, he drafted a list of all the things he wanted to achieve and experience in his lifetime.
Some goals on this ‘Life List’ were modest, like becoming and Eagle Scout and learning to play polo. Others were pumped with ambition and paved the way for John Goddard to become one of the world’s most renowned adventurers. It is thought that he was a real life inspiration for the much loved character Indiana Jones and some of the items on his ‘Life List’ that he ticked off go a long way to explaining this.
John Goddard was the first man to explore the entire length of the Nile and Congo rivers, determined to journey some of the world’s longest rivers. He climbed two of the world’s largest mountains, including Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Matterhorn, learned to fly a plane, skydived and even broke records during the Second World War, hitting a speed record of 1,500 mph in an F-111.
He was born in 1924 in Salt Lake City and wrote his ‘Life List’ in 1940. Goddard passed away in May 2013, having checked off 120 of his original 127 goals. He said during an interview in the 1990s:
‘There’s something about the human spirit that when you accept a challenge and work on it and have deadlines and capture your potential, it’s astounding what you can do’
Like The Wild Geese, John Goddard reached beyond his limits and has proved an inspiration for many generations to come. Speaking at the announcement of his death, Goddard’s nephew Dennis Larsen puts it perfectly:
‘What he’s taught me is that you can make your dreams come true’