Lighter Than Air: An Illustrated History of Balloons and Airships, by Tom D. Crouch

Lighter Than Air: An Illustrated History of Balloons and Airships, by Tom D. Crouch, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009, hardcover ISBN 978-0-8018-9127-4, 8.25 x 8.25 inches, 192 pages. 30 color illus., 80 b&w illus.

Source: The Johns Hopkins University Press

This richly illustrated book chronicles lighter-than-air flight from Archimedes’ discovery of the principle of buoyancy to the latest in sport balloons and plans for future airships. Far more than a timeline of events, Lighter Than Air focuses on the people—flamboyant and daring, heroes and scoundrels—who made history in the sky. Here are the eighteenth-century pioneers who first took to the skies, the peripatetic aeronauts who criss-crossed two continents a century later, the airmen who manned the great rigid airships, and the intrepid balloonists who flew their craft across oceans and continents in the years following World War II.

The first half of the volume recounts the invention of the balloon, the golden age of the professional aerial showmen in Europe and America, the use of balloons for aerial reconnaissance, and the key role of balloons in scientific research. The second half presents the rich tale of the airship from eighteenth-century dreams to twentieth-century reality. These chapters describe the early development of the pressure airship, the emergence of the rigid airship and its golden age in the first half of the twentieth century, and the military and civil applications of these aerial behemoths. The author concludes by discussing modern blimps, sport balloons, and dreams of a future for airships.

The highly accessible text is complemented with a wealth of prints and photos from the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., the Museé de l’Air et de l’Espace at Le Bourget, the Zepplin-Museum at Zepplinheim, and the Imperial War Museum in London. Written by award-winning aeronautical historian Tom D. Crouch, Lighter Than Air brings to life the color and excitement of buoyant flight.

“This copiously illustrated overview of lighter than air aviation chronicles an adventurous period in human accomplishment with style and insight… A fascinating account of the thrilling quest for human flight.”—Literary Features Syndicate

“Crouch is one of the most knowledgeable authorities on the history of flight today. In his latest book, Crouch slices off a portion of that history and presents it in accessible fashion in a lushly illustrated volume.”—History Wire – Where the Past Comes Alive

“Accompanied by beautiful illustrations, prints and photographs, the text of Lighter Than Air is easily acccessible and informative…The fascinating world of air travel comes to life with this entertaining and well-researched book.”—Deseret News

Tom D. Crouch, senior curator of the Division of Aeronautics at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, has written and edited over a dozen books, including The Bishop’s Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright. He has won several major awards for historical writing, including prizes offered by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Aviation/Space Writers Association.

Source: The Johns Hopkins University Press