Topic

Balloons & Airships

Showing 1 - 10 of 36
Thu, March 28 2019

The Many Flights of the Czar of Baseball

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!

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Wed, August 8 2018

Kiddo the Cat, Reluctant Aviator

On October 15, 1910, Kiddo the cat became the first of his kind to attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean by airship—and he wasn’t very happy about it.

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Sat, July 28 2018

Bird’s Eye Viewfinder: 160 Years of Aerial Photography

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. 

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Wed, June 6 2018

Using Science to Solve an Object Mystery

Conservationist and decorate art historians help solve a mystery behind two balloon-themed chairs in our Museum's collection. 

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Fri, November 3 2017

"Kiss Me Darling:" Conserving the Rituals of Dating and Dancing

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. 

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Fri, June 23 2017

Famous Signatures and Detailed Artwork in the Library

A fan of what he calls “the older stuff,” librarian Phil Edwards shared with me seven of the library’s most prized possessions and lesser-known gems just in time for Museum Week’s Book Day (#BooksMW).

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Mon, May 8 2017

Lost Balloons: Depicting the Dangers of Early Ballooning

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.  

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Fri, March 10 2017

Exploring Science in a Balloon

In the early years of the balloon, explorers employed the lighter-than-air craft to probe the upper reaches of the atmosphere, or float across the arctic wastes in an attempt to reach the North Pole.

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Fri, March 3 2017

Balloons in War

Having watched the first humans rise into the air, Benjamin Franklin predicted that the new invention would have considerable military value, enabling an aerial view of an enemy’s army for “conveying intelligence into, or out of, a besieged town, giving signals to distant places, or the like.”

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Mon, February 20 2017

The Balloon in Social and Political Satire

What made the balloon such a key graphic element in political and social satire for over one century? Was it the bulbous shape, or the fact that balloons are wayward craft that tend to go where the wind blows, in spite of the aeronaut’s best efforts? Whatever the reason, the great comic artists of the 18th and 19th century turned to the balloon time and time again in order to poke fun at people and events. The meaning of many of the political satires, the inside joke, is often lost on us today. If any of our friends out there can enlighten us as to the story behind one of these mysteries, we welcome the assistance! 

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