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The Dawn of Flight in Washington, D.C.
All-Day Tour

Sunday, July 26, 2015 - 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Code: 1ND026

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Think of the invention of the airplane and places like Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, or Dayton, Ohio, come to mind. How about Washington, D.C.? You’d likely be surprised that our own area is home to several significant sites connected to the beginnings of the airplane. Together, they tell a story of large and small moments that helped launch flight as we know it today.

Fort Meyer is where Orville Wright successfully demonstrated the first military aircraft, and his brother Wilbur trained the first military officers to fly at College Park, Maryland, establishing the oldest continually operating airport in the world. The third secretary of the Smithsonian, Samuel Pierpont Langley, created some of the first successful powered models of heavier-than-air flying machines inside the Castle. His full-scale manned version had a disastrous crash off Hain’s Point nine days before the Wright brothers succeeded. Harry Atwood landed one of the Wright Brothers’ planes on the South Lawn of the White House in 1911, completing the first-ever flight from Boston to Washington.

Join Wright scholar Paul Glenshaw at these and many other locations to discover the crucial role Washington played in the earliest days of powered flight. Among the stops are the site of the first fatal plane crash, the graves of pioneer pilots at Arlington Cemetery, the US Air Force Memorial, the Air and Space Museum, Georgetown, College Park Aviation Museum, and the National Cathedral. Hear stories as colorful as the characters, which include the Wright brothers, Glenn Curtiss, Alexander Graham Bell, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, House Speaker Joseph Cannon, and President William Howard Taft.

No fringe stop; price includes lunch.

Smithsonian Connections

Early Flight, now on view at the Air and Space Museum, celebrates the first decade of the airplane by evoking the atmosphere of an aviation show from that period: the fictitious Smithsonian Aeronautical Exposition of 1913. The gallery is crammed with fabric-covered aerial vehicles (including one of Secretary Langley’s powered scale models and the 1909 Wright Military Flyer), along with trade show–style exhibits featuring cutting-edge technology of the day.


Departs from the Holiday Inn Capitol at
550 C St SW (corner of 6th & C Sts)
No fringe stop on this tour