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Conoco files on IMAX films "To Fly" and "Flyers" Files

Creation: 1974-1996 Creation: Majority of material found within 1978-1985
Accession: 2527


The records consists of contract and production documents for two celebrated IMAX films sponsored by Conoco, Inc., and made for the National Air and Space Museum, with an accompanying juvenile storybook.


  • Creation: 1974-1996
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1978-1985



0.7 Linear Foot

Historical Note

On July 1, 1974, Francis Thompson, Inc., a noted New York based producer of promotional and exhibit films, drafted a proposal for the Smithsonian Institution to produce a documentary on the history of flight as a bicentennial event for the new National Air and Space Museum. Financial support was provided by the Continental Oil Company, later Conoco, Inc., and the commission was given to MacGillivray-Freeman Films of Laguna Beach, Calif.

The result was To Fly, a spectacular, award-winning documentary in the new IMAX format that had its premier at the Museum on July 1, 1976, and has been shown there ever since, as well as in other IMAX-equipped venues. The film combines a look at manned flight from hot air balloons to space exploration with the patriotic story of America's westward and then upward expansion. It astounded audiences with its then-uprecedented level of definition and stereo sound and spectacular point-of-view shots of motion and flight.

In 1981, the company, now Conoco, Inc., again collaborated with MacGillivray-Freeman Films and Dennis Earl Moore Productions to produce a second IMAX film for the National Air and Space Museum. Flyers, released in 1982, tells the story of Kyle Murphy, a fictional World War II pilot who becomes a plane restorer and movie stunt pilot and over the course of the film inspires his young cameraman to become a stunt pilot himself. The film features even more spectacular footage of recreated World War I and World War II aerial combat, including dogfights, a crippled landing on an aircraft carrier, and a wing-walking stunt over the Grand Canyon.

Following the success of Flyers, Conoco, Inc., contracted with Random House, Inc., on March 4, 1982, to create a companion picture storybook of the same title for young readers.

Scope and Content

The records cover the production and exhibition of the films To Fly and Flyers and the companion Flyers stroybook. The files cover production and distribution agreements, budgets and costs estimates, scripts and drafts, press releases, video rights and arrangements and accounting with the theatrical distributor, Lawrence Associates.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

These records are located in remote storage. Please contact staff 48 hours in advance of research visit at

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Related Materials

Videos of the two films To Fly and Flyers are located in DuPont Company Textile Fabrics Department videotapes, photographs, slides and promotions (Accession 2011.320), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials


Additional Description


The records passed into the possession of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company during the period in which they were the owners of Conoco, Inc., and were given by DuPont to the Hagley Library in 2012.

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Conoco files on IMAX Films "To Fly" and "Flyers" Files
Rainer Naus and Christopher T. Baer
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA