The Dream of Flight: A Library of Congress Special Presentation Commemorating the Centennial of Flight
Wright Brothers flying over field

On December 17, 1903, at 10:35 a.m., Wilbur and Orville Wright made the world’s first sustained, powered, and controlled flight in a heavier-than-air flying machine, thereby realizing one of mankind’s oldest and most persistent aspirations—human flight. To commemorate this achievement and to celebrate the centennial anniversary of that great event, the Library of Congress has created a special presentation within its American Treasures Gallery. The Dream of Flight presents the Wrights’ achievement and also uses some of the Library’s rarest and most significant materials to explore the notion that flight, whether fanciful or actual, historically has inspired and occupied a central place in most cultures. Drawing on the Library’s Wilbur and Orville Wright Collections as well as the complementary materials in the papers of their mentor and friend, Octave Chanute, this special display culminates in the compelling story of two motivated and inspired American bicycle mechanics single-handedly acquiring an understanding of the scientific problem of flight and aerodynamics and, through determination, courage, will, and ingenuity, teaching themselves and the world to fly.