Balloons & Airships

Showing 31 - 40 of 42
Fri, February 14 2014

Love is in the Air

Aerial weddings may now be considered quite commonplace.  Just a quick online search turns up a number of places that provide skydiving services.  But in the nineteenth century, the idea of flying at all was still exciting.  Balloon weddings?  Those were spectacles! Mary West Jenkins and Dr. John F. Boyton intended to be married on November 8, 1865, in Thaddeus Lowe’s balloon, high over New York City. 

Read More about Love is in the Air
Jenkins-Boynton Wedding
Tue, January 28 2014

(Almost) True Comics!

For many people, sitting down and reading a thick history book is not the most exciting proposal.  I have had more than one relative question my choice to study history, and inform me that it was their least enjoyable class in school.  Luckily for them, history can be found in more places than traditional scholarly textbooks.  History can be found in television, movies, and even comic books.  Although it may be more enjoyable to experience history in this way, these sources may not always be the most accurate representations.

Read More about (Almost) True Comics!
First Panel of Lincoln Flying Fighter Comic Strip
Tue, November 5 2013

The Most Fashionable Balloon of the Civil War

Although the collection of the National Air and Space Museum contains some of the best air- and spacecraft, it also has one of the best collections of artifacts from the often forgotten days of ballooning. Before humans were able to fly into the heavens on wings or rockets, they first rose off the ground in balloons, often tethered to prevent complete flight.

Read More about The Most Fashionable Balloon of the Civil War
General Edward Porter Alexander
Thu, July 4 2013

Up in the Air on the Fourth

Uncle Sam and two lovely ladies cruise serenely above the clouds — avoiding all those holiday traffic jams — in this patriotic postcard by the great postcard artist Ellen Hattie Clapsaddle (1865-1934), who had a real talent for holiday-themed airships.

Read More about Up in the Air on the Fourth
Uncle Sam Postcard
Thu, June 21 2012

Watching the War From Above

The nation is in the process of commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and those of us at the Smithsonian are very much involved, searching our collections for items that will help our visitors better understand the conflict that divided 19th century America. As might be expected, the National Museum of American History, the National Portrait Gallery, and the National Museum of American Art preserve and display a wealth of objects, portraits, and images that help to bring the Civil War era to life. Who would have guessed, however, that the National Air and Space Museum would hold a single object used by more high ranking Union Army officers than any other surviving artifact in the entire Smithsonian collection!

Read More about Watching the War From Above
Thaddeus Lowe
Sat, April 7 2012

And Now, the Easter Balloon Bunny

In the early years of the 20th century, one of the ways that enthusiasm for all things aeronautical found expression were in colorful chromolithographic postcards, like this Easter postcard featuring an intrepid, though slightly nervous-looking, rabbit who takes to the sky onboard a festive aerial egg balloon. The card was mailed to one Elinora in Frederick, Maryland by her cousin Louisa in April, 1911. Yes, a lighter-than-air bunny may be a little unlikely, but surely no more than a turkey piloting a biplane. Allan Janus is a museum specialist in the Archives Division of the National Air and Space Museum.  

Read More about And Now, the Easter Balloon Bunny
Easter Balloon Bunny Postcard
Mon, May 23 2011

Mr. Lincoln’s Air Force: Top 10 Reasons to visit the Museum on June 11th

How do the National Air and Space Museum and the Civil War intersect?  Come find out as we tell the story of the Union Balloon Corps  founded in June 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln. 150 years ago next month Thaddeus Lowe demonstrated ballooning to President Lincoln on a spot just north from where the Museum now stands on the National Mall.

Read More about Mr. Lincoln’s Air Force: Top 10 Reasons to visit the Museum on June 11th
Thaddeus Lowe
Mon, August 16 2010

The Long, Lonely Leap

August 16, 2010 will mark the 50th anniversary of one of the most memorable aeronautical moments of my adolescence. I can still remember seeing the cover of Life magazine for August 29, 

Read More about The Long, Lonely Leap
Kittinger Jump
Thu, May 6 2010

Following the Hindenburg

The superlatives tend to pile up pretty quickly when it comes to the rigid airship Hindenburg, the pride of the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei line...It’s a shame, though, that the Hindenburg is remembered today primarily for its tragic final flight.

Read More about Following the Hindenburg
Hindenburg Poster