Wright Brothers’ Flying Machine - Saturday 23 Feb. 7pm on TVNZ6

On December 17, 1903, a wood and cloth biplane, representing four years of intense research by Wilbur and Orville Wright, took off from the dunes at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, with Orville at the controls — marking history’s first controlled, sustained and powered flight. The Wright Brothers’ amazing achievement is celebrated in Wright Brothers’ Flying Machine on Saturday 23 February at 7pm on TVNZ Family on TVNZ 6.

To bring the Wrights’ technological genius to life, this doco features authentic replicas of their brilliantly conceived craft, as shown in thrilling test flights. The climax is the construction and maiden flight of a replica Wright 1911 Model B – the pinnacle of the brothers’ accomplishments and the world’s first practical passenger-carrying flying machine – with all the essential technical features of modern aircraft.
Made especially for this programme, the Model B is the handiwork of Ken Hyde, a retired airline pilot and nationally recognised restorer of historic aircraft.

Some of the world’s foremost Wright experts feature in Wright Brothers’ Flying Machine, including Tom Crouch, senior curator of the aeronautics division at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) and author of The Bishop’s Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright; and John D. Anderson, Jr., curator of aerodynamics at NASM and author of leading books on aeronautical engineering.

The replicas of the Wright machines made for this programme recreate the exact designs and materials used by the brothers — a considerable challenge since the two were notoriously secretive and destroyed most of their plans.

Even after their successful flight of December 17, 1903, the brothers knew they had just begun, and devoted the rest of the decade to honing and perfecting their invention to make it practical.

By 1910 they had the Model B, an aeroplane that was modified to make the first air crossing of the USA in 1911. Wright-trained pilot Cal Rodgers was at the controls for that flight, which took 49 days and was punctuated by numerous stops and crash landings.

Since then, aviation has advanced in astonishing leaps and bounds. Travel back in time to see and understand the Wright brothers’ amazing achievement in Wright Brothers’ Flying Machine on TVNZ Family.

Saturday 23 February, 7pm on TVNZ6

Subscribe to our mailing list

About the author