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Tag Archives: civil war

Obscure Objects: Presidential Writings Reveal Early Interest in Ballooning

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Lots of museums and historical institutions have letters from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in their collection, but why would a museum dedicated to aviation, space exploration, and planetary science? Ballooning, that’s why. The advent of human flight started in June 1783 in France. Two brothers named Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier demonstrated the first hot-air   …Continue Reading


More than Just a Map

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You never know what you’ll uncover once you do a little digging. Museum Technician Tom Paone discovered something quite remarkable from what at first appeared to be a simple map. It is sometimes hard to believe just how much you can learn from some old pieces of paper. While searching in the Archives of the   …Continue Reading


(Almost) True Comics!

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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   …Continue Reading


The Most Fashionable Balloon of the Civil War

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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   …Continue Reading


Civil War Planes

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In a recent post, Tom Paone described the plans of William Powell, a resident of Mobile, Alabama, for a Confederate helicopter. In fact, Powell’s scheme was only the tip of the iceberg. In researching a scholarly paper on Civil War Planes, I have catalogued a score of plans for powered flying machines developed on both   …Continue Reading