Only two survived the crash of the Wingfoot Express—Henry Wacker, the chief mechanic, and John Boettner, the pilot. They became known as members one and two of the Caterpillar Club, an organization formed in November 1922 consisting of people who had used parachutes to make an emergency jump.
The 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, the only unit that stormed the beach at Normandy on June 6, 1944, that was comprised entirely of African American soldiers, played a vital role in protecting the ships and soldiers during the D-Day invasion.
The world of sport aviation suffered a tragic loss on March 25, 2019, with the death of Julian R.P. Nott after an accident on the ground following a successful landing of an experimental balloon. Nott was one of the founders of the modern sport ballooning movement and an innovator in the field.
In the wake of the Black Sox Scandal, Baseball was looking to restore its integrity with a leader with his feet firmly on the ground. They elected Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the first Commissioner (or “Czar”) of Baseball. A long-serving jurist from Chicago, Landis was known for his decisions against big businesses, such as Standard Oil, and for slipping out to Cubs and White Sox games. But Landis also had his head in the clouds, a true aviation enthusiast!
In 1858, French photographer Gaspar Félix Tournachon took a photo of a village from his hot air balloon--the first aerial photograph. Since then, aerial photography has changed how we see the world around us.
The Clouds in a Bag exhibit at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, displays many early renditions of ballooning, including a 18th-19th century dance box. Take a look at the conservation process behind this charming object.
The dangers of ballooning were apparent to aeronauts and the general public. From the early 1800s, attempts to fly over water too often ended in disaster or a narrow escape. Some of the best known aeronauts on both sides of the Atlantic set off across a large body of water never to be seen again. The daring rescue of balloonists from water was a favorite subject with artists and engravers. The vision of a “lost balloon” vanishing over the horizon became a metaphor for the uncertainties of life in the turbulent 19th century.