Aeronautics Department Museum Specialist

Thomas Paone curates the lighter-than-air collection, including balloons, blimps, and airships.  The collection consists of over 500 items, from small pieces of fabric from the Hindenburg airship, to the Explorer II gondola, which produced the first ever image showing the curvature of the Earth.  The lighter-than-air collection embodies some of the earliest attempts at piloted flight, as well as artifacts representing record-breaking balloon flights.

Paone has been an exhibition team member for several galleries in the museum, including Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There and the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. He is currently working on several upcoming galleries, including Nation of Speed and the reimagined Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight and World War I exhibitions.

Paone’s research focuses on ballooning in the Civil War, as well as the use of airships and blimps in America. He co-authored the Museum’s book Milestones of Flight: The Epic of Aviation with the National Air and Space Museum (Zenith Press, 2016) and supported the publication of the book Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There (Smithsonian Books, 2015).

He received his BA from Gettysburg College, and an MA in American History from George Mason University.

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