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A scant fifty-nine seconds changed history on December 17, 1903. On that day, as twenty-five mile-per-hour winds swept across the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers made the first of mankind's powered flights.
Kitty Hawk: The Wright Brothers' Journey of Invention chronicles the trials and challenges that led up to the amazing accomplishment of Orville and Wilbur. As two relatively uneducated bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio, this pair was hardly deemed the most likely to succeed in the race to conquer the skies. Others with far greater qualifications were off their marks before them. Some of the contestants, such as Otto Lilienthal, had even paid for participation with their lives. The greatest remaining competition, Samuel Langley, had the resources of government grants and the Smithsonian Institution at his disposal. Regardless, the two underdogs set out to try their hand at unraveling the mysteries of aviation.
This remarkable documentary brings their story to life with archival photos and film footage, as well as reenactments with replica airplanes and computer animation. Focusing on the genius of their scientific insights and discoveries, the story builds with comments from experts and readings from the many letters the brothers sent to family and friends. In a fitting tribute to these pioneers of flight, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong--pioneers of space aviation--portray their voices.
Born at a time when believing man could fly was seen as far-fetched faith, these persistent inventers also offer a portrait of determination and dedication. Their inner convictions are both tested and exemplified during their most crucial moment. In a neck and neck battle to be first, the brothers waited for a break in the weather to test their craft. It finally came on Sunday, December 16. However, these boys were the sons of a Bishop and had promised not to fly on the Sabbath, so they let the opportunity pass. The next day dawned with fierce winds that were anything but ideal. Fearing they could wait no longer, the Wrights braved the elements, and perhaps with God's grace, piloted mankind into the age of flight.
For history buffs and aviation enthusiasts, this Journey comes with a second disc featuring extra photos from Kitty Hawk and actual footage of the Wrights demonstrating their machines in Europe and the United States. There are also segments showing modern pilots attempting to operate Wright Brothers' replica gliders, as well as explanations of the important discoveries Orville and Wilbur made with each variation they tested. Budding scientists and mathematicians will find enough detail to keep them interested, while the merely curious shouldn't be too overwhelmed.
My favorite parts were the insights into the personal side of these notable figures. Although briefly discussed in an inclusion of extra interview footage, the truly revealing information is found in the section entitled "Letters from Kitty Hawk." As excerpts from their personal correspondence is read, you get to glimpse their true personalities and humor. (I particularly appreciated the description of the bed bug problem at camp Kitty Hawk--it adds a new perspective on scratching your place in the history books.)
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of flight, Kitty Hawk: The Wright Brothers' Journey of Invention will inspire viewers with the vision of these two men who believed the sky was the limit.
Kitty Hawk: The Wright Brothers’ Journey Of Invention is rated Not Rated:
Cast: Neil Armstrong, Tom Crouch, Nick Engler