Santa Clara alumnus and adjunct professor John Giddings ’91 wants to set the record straight: It was Santa Clara College (SCU) professor John Joseph Montgomery who was the first in the U.S. to successfully fly a heavier-than-air glider. Montgomery’s feat took place in 1884, 20 years before the more famous flight of the Wright Brothers. Giddings is now hoping to make Montgomery’s story into a full-length feature film.
“This is a story that needs to be told,” says Giddings. “[Montgomery] was just 26 years old at the time of the historic flight—the same age as many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs today. He was a brilliant and wonderful man.”
Giddings has proven there’s interest. A Kickstarter campaign that ended this month surpassed its goal of $4,500. The money is just the beginning of what producer Veronica Craven hopes to turn into a $10 million production. Craven plans to incorporate computer-generated imagery (CGI) flying sequences and courtroom drama into the film.
“What happened to Montgomery’s patents and the 20-year courtroom battle adds a whole new layer to an already complicated and interesting story,” says Craven. “We are not planning to vilify anyone, but want to make sure that Montgomery’s story and the historical facts are known in an exciting and engaging way.”
Today, the Montgomery name can be found on a street, theater, and elementary school in the South Bay. While many people may recognize the name, they may not realize the extent of Montgomery’s aviation legacy.
“This story is a proud piece of Bay Area history and he’s an important role model for children everywhere,” says Giddings.