The Wright Flyer on TDC and TLC

The Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel both have programs about teams making authentic 1903 Wright Flyer’s, using materials and methods that Wilbur and Orville would have used. That both cable channels - owned by the same company - have programs is a little bit odd, though each program is a bit different.

TLC’s follows a small group of Wright enthusiasts building their Wright Flyer. It mostly centers on a pilot/aircraft builder - who is apparently bankrolling the venture - as he travels to get the wing fabric (some sort of cotton), engine and coordinates the building with a team of fellow Wright enthusiasts. Of course he’s going to fly it, too, in the next episode which I think airs in November.

TDC’s show is sponsored - we are repeatedly told - by Ford MoCo and Microsoft Flight Simulator. The big money is clearly flowing for this one. While they too are striving to use materials/methods like the Wright Brothers - they’ve got full-size wind tunnels, dynamometers and such for the engine makers and it looks like they’ve booked Kitty Hawk for December 17, 2003 - the 100 year anniversary. Peppered throughout, of course, is lots of huggy praise for Henry Ford, without whom, one might almost reckon, the Wrights would just be a couple of bike mechanics from Dayton. Oh yeah - they also trash Samuel Langley of the Smithsonion for his flying contraptions not quite flying.

Anyone see these programs? They’ll be re-aired lots, and both will have follow-ups in the up-coming months.