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Langley and Manly and Orville and Wilbur: The Race To Be First To Fly

Daytime Program

Noon Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0019
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Orville and Wilbur Wright, 1909 (Top, U.S. Air Force) and Samuel Pierpont Langley with chief mechanic and pilot, Charles M. Manly, 1903 (Bottom, NASA Langley Research Center)


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
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Aviation writer and filmmaker Paul Glenshaw tells the story of the epic race between two highly gifted, motivated, innovative, and courageous engineering teams who ran a neck-and-neck race to be the first to fly in the fall and winter of 1903. One was a pair of brothers—Orville and Wilbur Wright, who were absolute peers. The other team was a mentor (Dr. Samuel Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian) and his brilliant assistant (Charles Matthews Manly). We know who won—but do we know why?

Celebrate the 149th birthday of Orville Wright (August 19, 1871) with a program illustrated by images and films that draws on rare unpublished sources to present a fascinating study of the nature and realities of cutting-edge innovation.

Glenshaw is a regular contributor to the Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine, co-writer and producer of the PBS documentary Barnstorming, and co-writer and director of the documentary The Lafayette Escadrille. He was a longtime member of the Wright Experience team in Warrenton, Virginia, and executive director of the Discovery of Flight Foundation.

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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.