Oscar-winning filmmaker and pilot to speak at ValleyFirsts! exhibition

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Oscar-winning filmmaker and pilot to speak at ValleyFirsts! exhibition

Ben Shedd, director of the 1978 Academy Award-wining documentary “The Flight of the Gossamer Condor,” will speak after a screening of his film as part of the ValleyFirsts! exhibition, 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22 in the Leon S. Peters Ellipse Gallery on the second floor of Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library.

The film documents the flight of the Gossamer Condor, the world’s first fully controllable human-powered aircraft. Pilot Bryan Allen will join Shedd for the screening and discussion.

Both men have ties to Central California. Shedd, a Stockton native, is an Academy Visiting Artist funded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who won a Peabody Award for his work with the PBS series “Nova.”

Allen, from Tulare, pedaled the Gossamer Condor to success on its 223rd flight, which lasted seven minutes and 27 seconds. Later, Allen piloted a second award-winning flight, the Gossamer Albatross, across the English Channel in two hours and 49 minutes.

While aviation enthusiasts continue to experiment with human-powered aircrafts, the flights remain extremely rare.

“Humans dreamed of flying under their own power for millennia,” Allen said. “The Gossamer flights are turning out to be, in a small way, kind of like the Apollo landings on the moon — difficult and extreme enough that no one is particularly motivated to repeat them.”

The Gossamer Condor was designed by aerodynamicist Dr. Paul B. MacCready and Dr. Peter B. S. Lissaman of AeroVironment, Inc. The aircraft is now on permanent display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

The program will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. Shedd and Allen will introduce the film at 6:45 p.m. Copies of the film will be available for checkout at the library following the event.

Parking and admission are free, but reservations are required by Nov. 19. Guests can RSVP at http://pawsforms.csufresno.edu/rsvp/reply (enter code FMLCONDOR).

For more information, contact Sharon Ramirez at 559.278.5790 or sramirez@csufresno.edu.

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