The Winds of Kitty Hawk (1978)

TV Movie  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  17 December 1978 (USA)
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The story of the Wright Brothers and the events that led to the famous first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC.


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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
David Huffman ...
William Tate
H.A. Toumlin
Scott Hylands ...
Glenn Curtiss
Kate Wright
Bishop Milton Wright
Prof. Samuel Langley
Joseph Bernard ...
Mayor of New York
Lew Brown ...
Harlan Mumford
Carole Tru Foster ...
Agnes Osborne
Ace Hutchin
Mo Malone ...
Elizabeth Mayfield
Robert Casper ...


The story of the Wright Brothers and the events that led to the famous first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC.

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Release Date:

17 December 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A repülés úttörői  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Wilbur Wright and Glenn Curtiss are preparing to fly to New York in 1909, a US flag behind Wright has 48 stars instead of 45 (official before July 4, 1908) or 46 (official until 1912). See more »

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User Reviews

Solid Historical Production about the Wrights with some inaccuracies
12 March 2004 | by (East Coast, U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

The only dramatic film on the Wright Brothers and their pioneering success with the aeroplane. This is a made for television movie shot in color. Production values are very good and the film is historically staged.

The first part of the movie, storywise, is well done & concerns the brothers early lives in their bicycle shop and their eventual foray into the problem of human flight. Notable scenes are ie: Their first journey to Kitty Hawk in 1900. Their befriending of the Kitty Hawk locals like the little boy Tom Tate who appears with his family in some of the Wrights' real life photographs. Young Tate & his father & uncles helped Wilbur & Orville with the gliders, lugging them over the sand dunes. Also showcased is the Wrights' sister Katharine, who shared their travails through the years. Katharine, the only girl in the Wright family, was also the only Wright sibling to go to college. And we see Bishop Wright, their father, a member of the United Bretheren Church offering advice & support to his sons.

But the film concerns itself mostly with Will & Orv's aeronautical experiments and ultimately their achievements. Samuel Langley is shown as a competitor of the Wrights in the race to invent the aeroplane.(In reality Orville many years later stated that he & Wilbur had nothing against Langley because Langley was trying to reach the same goal as they were and that Langley was more of a colleague than a competitor). The scenes where the brothers are shown flying at Kitty Hawk N.C. are well staged & believable but they were shot in southern Calif.

After the scenes of the 1903 flight the film starts to get inaccurate. Even before hand, Katharine is shown visiting her brothers at Kitty Hawk. This is incorrect for Katharine never went to KH...she always wrote to her brothers there, and they to her, as well as to their father.

When the brothers get back to Dayton, after their Dec 17 1903 triumph, they continue to improve the aeroplane in new designs in 1904 & 1905. Their flying area is shown to have mountains in the background(southern Cal). Dayton Ohio is quite flat and unobstructed which is why the brothers continued to fly there. Glenn Curtiss, another aviation pioneer, & Alexander Graham Bell are show to be almost villainous which is inaccurate. Though Curtiss and many others infringed the Wrights' wing warping patent(today's aileron control). Orville's crash at Fort Myer in 1908 is depicted as well as Wilbur's flight up the Hudson River in 1909. Also nicely filmed is how the brothers tried to sell their invention to the U.S. Gov't and were rejected by Secretary of War William H Taft & staff.

Other 'accurate' & well done parts of the film are the many different instances the brothers had to deal with reporters. Such as coming back from Kitty Hawk at Christmas 1903, or when Orville is flying at Ft Myer during the Army demonstrations. Also, very importantly, the lawyer the brothers hire to help them secure, as well as protect, their patents. Over all its a good feel of a film told with many isolated points of the brothers' lives. But like I said the first half of the movie is well done & accurate particularly the brothers doing wind tunnel experiments, arguing with one another, as well as the beautifully composed scenes of them flying their 1902 glider. But after the brothers' make the first aeroplane flight Dec 17 1903 the film starts to veer off into historical inaccuracies. .....8 1/2 out of 10 because production is so well shot.

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