David Attenborough's Conquest of the Skies

First to Fly

Series 1 - Episode 1 First to Fly



On a summer’s day each year foolhardy Icaruses throw themselves off Bognor pier, attempting to master man-powered flight. For a few glorious seconds they hang, before plunging into the briny. But billions of creatures swoop, glide, hover and soar through the air every day. David Attenborough wants to explain how and why animals defied gravity in the first place.

He travels the globe and uses, as is now traditional, ground-breaking technology to tell his story. He starts with an ancestor of the dragonfly — purportedly the first insect to take flight – and then shows how beetles’ development of wings led to them becoming the most populous animal group on Earth.


The veteran naturalist examines the world of flight, travelling across the globe to chart the evolutionary story of those creatures who seemingly defy the rules of gravity by taking to the air. Initially focusing on insects, Attenborough meets a descendant of the dragonfly, before examining the Atlas beetle, which tends to restrict flight to times when it needs a mate or a fresh supply of food. More aesthetically pleasing is a group of beautiful tropical butterflies, followed by an in-depth study into the blow fly - the jet fighter of insects.

Cast & Crew

Presenter David Attenborough