Before the Wright Brothers and airplanes, hot air balloons dominated the skies. Today we’re going to explore the origin of the hot air balloon, and we’re going to do it with an old time radio show: the original podcast. First aired September 17, 1946, ‘The Birth of the Balloon’ is a dramatized recreation of what people in 1946 thought the early days of ballooning might have been like based on their understanding of history.
Welcome to the
Flight Deck Podcast
Listen to all of the Museum’s best aviation and aerospace stories on the Flight Deck Podcast, a podcast that makes history personal. Episodes released every other Tuesday. We hope you enjoy it!!
Former NASA Astronaut Wendy Lawrence is a veteran both of the Untied States Navy and four NASA Space Shuttle missions – including the Return to Flight mission following the Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster. In today’s episode, she talks about how she had to stop thinking of Russians as Cold War enemy and start thinking of them as space-bound allies, how she mapped out her future into space as a teen, and the perspective that astronauts gain when they’re out there among the stars.
Flying fish from the Civil War era. Jetpacks with dolls. Planes in a bottle. As with any museum, only a fraction of The Museum of Flight’s collection is on display. In today’s episode, members of the Museum’s Collections team discuss some of the curios they’ve come across during their work, all of which are features on The Museum of Flight’s Collections Instagram.
Picture this: You’re a doctor on an aircraft carrier. You’re awoken and told of an emergency on the lowest decks of the ship. You rush down staircase after staircase and find a sailor, his legs crushed by an elevator that’s stuck. You need to amputate or he’ll likely die. You don’t have time to go get your full kit. All you have on you is a pocketknife. This was Hank Davis’ reality, as he shares in this second part of his conversation with host Sean Mobley. In honor of the new temporary exhibit at The Museum of Flight, Stranger Than Fiction: The Incredible Story of Aerospace Medicine, Hank shares this and other stories from his time aboard the USS Coral Sea.
We’re celebrating the opening of our new temporary exhibit Stranger Than Fiction: The Incredible Story of Aerospace Medicine by chatting with Hank Davis, a former flight surgeon on the USS Coral Sea.
What does it take to turn real-life war stories into a game? Jason Morningstar, Creative Director of Bully Pulpit Games, released the tabletop roleplaying game Night Witches in 2015 with the goal of connecting players with the history of Soviet women who flew night raids over the Nazis during World War II. In this episode of The Flight Deck, he and host Sean Mobley discuss the true stories and people who inspired the game, as well as the challenges game designers face adapting something as serious as wartime experiences into a fun, compelling, respectful game.
Teasel Muir-Harmony, Curator of the Apollo program at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, once again joins host Sean Mobley in this conclusion to the two-episode series on the political history of the Apollo program. In this episode, she talks about the classic 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and its place in Apollo political history, how domestic and international perceptions of the Apollo program varied quite significantly, and what role museums have in helping people deconstruct their understandings of history when new research challenges long-held ideas previously accepted as fact. We highly recommend listening to the previous episode before this one.
Returning guest Teasel Muir-Harmony, Curator of the Apollo program at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, joins host Sean Mobley for a Q&A about her book Operation Moonglow: A Political History of Project Apollo. In this first of a two-part series, Teasel sets the stage and talks about the wider global context within which the US space program operated. We discussed the American politicians who encouraged and shaped panic around Sputnik and the space race, the importance of symbolism in a lot of the images and actions the astronauts took both on the moon and here on Earth, and how racism was a national security risk which the space program was partially designed to counter.
This episode takes a break from talking aviation and space history to have a conversation with someone making history right now. Bryné Hadnott, a science writer and founder of Space Out STEM. With a career that has ranged from hard space science to historical writing, Bryné is a rising star in the aerospace and science fields. Fortunately for The Museum of Flight, she’s also a mentor for the Michael P. Anderson program, a free education opportunity for students from underserved communities named in honor of Michael P. Anderson, an African-American astronaut who was killed Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. In our conversation, Bryné and I talked about her journey to study the stars through the maze of academia, the science fiction that inspires her, and the importance of community and resilience in the face of adversity.
Evoking images of glamorous air travel and high society, the Boeing 314 Clipper is one of the most romanticized aircraft in history. These massive flying boats ferried passengers, mostly for PanAm, to Hawaii and other vacation destinations. Museum of Flight Docent Bill McCutcheon shares the history of the Clipper, its prominent use by the government during World War II, and the legacy of this short-lived but well-remembered aircraft.