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Balloonamania

Balloonamania

December 15, 2003 – Permanent

Museum: Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center

Location: Boeing Aviation Hangar

The commotion created when the Montgolfier brothers sent the first successful unmanned balloon aloft in 1783 in France was as great as that created by the Wright Brothers' first flight a century later. Because communication worked differently in the 18th century, historic events were recorded visually on a variety of objects from clocks to teacups.Some 400 objects from the museum's collection of ballooning memorabilia illustrate how ballooning captured the public's imagination of the day both in Europe and America.Included in the two exhibition cases are such items as ceramic saucers; ashtrays; pocket watches; paperweights; boxes of tortoiseshell, ivory, and amber; and 18th-century walnut chairs—all beautifully decorated with ballooning scenes. Also on view is the barometer carried by American physician John Jeffries on the first balloon crossing of the English Channel in January 1785.