Lighter Than Air: An Illustrated History of Balloons and Airships, by Tom D. Crouch, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009,
8.25 x 8.25 inches, 192 pages.
Hardcover: ISBN 978-0-8018-9127-4, $35.00
This richly illustrated book chronicles lighter-than-air flight from Archimedes' discovery of the principle of buoyancy to the latest in sport balloons and plans for future airships. Far more than a timeline of events, Lighter Than Air focuses on the people - flamboyant and daring, heroes and scoundrels - who made history in the sky. Here are the eighteenth-century pioneers who first took to the skies, the peripatetic aeronauts who crisscrossed two continents a century later, the airmen who manned the great rigid airships, and the intrepid balloonists who flew their craft across oceans and continents in the years following World War II. The first half of the volume recounts the invention of the balloon, the golden age of the professional aerial showmen in Europe and America, the use of balloons for aerial reconnaissance, and the key role of balloons in scientific research. The second half presents the rich tale of the airship from eighteenth-century dreams to twentieth-century reality. These chapters describe the early development of the pressure airship, the emergence of the rigid airship and its golden age in the first half of the twentieth century, and the military and civil applications of these aerial behemoths. The author concludes by discussing modern blimps, sport balloons, and dreams of a future for airships. The highly accessible text is complemented with a wealth of prints and photos from the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., the Musee de l'Air et de l'Espace at Le Bourget, the Zepplin-Museum at Zepplinheim, and the Imperial War Museum in London. Written by award-winning aeronautical historian Tom D. Crouch, Lighter Than Air brings to life the color and excitement of buoyant flight.