To Fly!

1976 film by Greg MacGillivray

To Fly! is a 1976 short IMAX film, commissioned for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) as their IMAX Theater's premiere film and a celebration of the United States Bicentennial. It chronicles the history of flight and credits the imagination of the American people as pioneers, showing how aviation allows humans to explore the world as they have never seen it before. It received positive reviews and remains one of the most popular IMAX films, credited to the growing popularity of the format.

Our new vision has changed our very comprehension of our land.
Written and directed by Greg MacGillivray and Jim Freeman
Go where dreams have wings. (taglines)


  • Here on July 4th, in the Year of Our Lord 1831, I am about to take a flight above the ground and earth and into the silent sky!
  • [Before ascending, Ezekiel reads a poem to his small crowd]
Until today, what birds alone were meant to take the sky
But now, because of men like me, all men of Earth shall fly
Beyond the clouds, twixt thunder and the Sun!
Today, a new age has begun
  • [After ascending] It's magnificence! I wish you can all see it from here!


[Flight] was like the opening of a new eye. From above, the world seems transformed. Beyond the close-set boundaries of settled communities, lie the unbounded and unknown lands waiting to be crossed on our way to the Western ocean. No boundaries here, but there will be many surprises down the watery highways known only to Indians and trappers.
  • [After showing the first form of aviation, hot-air-balloons] But America is still the domain of the horizontal, and speaks a language of vast distances. To conquer [it], we begin to think of space not as miles of forests and prairie to be crossed, but as time between places. Days. Hours. Minutes. We ally ourselves to speed.
  • The traditional community testified to human limits, and its boundaries were in the world of the horizontal. But these swarming clusters of metal and glass seemed monuments to the idea of the vertical. They pushed the sky, as if to uproot themselves and take flight. We can truly see these cities only with that other eye we opened Wright Flyer|not so long ago.
  • In our new way West, we will fly in a few hours, over landscapes the pioneers labored months and years to cross.
  • This development of mobility and rapid transport has no parallel in all human history. And the telescoping of time has changed forever, the patterns of our imagination.
  • Once, the shining sea of the West was limits and boundary. Now, lands-end, there's no longer the end of the line.
  • We first flew in dreams, and the dream of flying has become real. We have extended our limits and seen our world from a new angle, in a way that once would've seemed godlike.
  • The heavens are still beyond us.
  • We have come a long way from a time when people gazed enviously upon the birds in-flight. Today, we look upon our planet from afar, and feel a new tenderness for the tiny and fragile Earth. For we know now, that even as we walk upon the ground, we are ever in-flight through the universe. And so, we begin to realize that human destiny has ever been, and always must be, to fly!


  • Go where dreams have wings.
  • Feel the Earth drop beneath you.


  • Peter Walker as Ezekiel
  • Ellen Bry as an unknown character

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