Press Release

Into the Ether: Published Works on Ballooning and Atmospheric Studies, 1783-1910

CONTACT: Charles Schuler
Director of Communications
San Francisco International Airport


Into the Ether: Published Works on Ballooning and Atmospheric Studies, 1783-1910
New exhibition presents more than thirty literary works from the special collections library at SFO Museum

SAN FRANCISCO - The hot air balloon, introduced in France by brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier in 1783, made a profound impact on society and culture. It was the first aircraft to voyage with human passengers into the upper atmosphere and it set the stage for later advances in aeronautics. The balloon remained the prevalent form of aviation for more than one hundred years until the introduction of airships, gliders, and the airplane.

This exhibition presents a unique selection of more than thirty literary works on ballooning and atmospheric studies from the special collections library at SFO Museum. These include works by Henry Coxwell (1819–1900), the leader of the British Association for the Advancement of Science project to investigate the upper atmosphere; and the published investigations into aerial acoustics, meteorology, astronomy, and photography by the Reverend John Mackenzie Bacon (1846–1904) and his daughter, Gertrude Bacon (1874–1949).

The majority of the publications on view are from the Tony Bill Aviation Library Collection, now housed at SFO Museum. Tony Bill, actor, director, and Academy Award-winning producer, has pursued a lifelong interest in aviation as a pilot, historian, and book collector. In the late 1990s, his collection was acquired and made available to the public at the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library.

Visit for more information on the exhibition.    


Into the Ether: Published Works on Ballooning and Atmospheric Studies, 1783–1910 is located pre-security in the Aviation Museum and Library in the International Terminal of San Francisco International Airport. This exhibition is on view to all Airport visitors from June 23, 2018, to March 31, 2019. There is no charge to view the exhibition.


SFO Museum

SFO Museum was established by the Airport Commission in 1980 for the purposes of humanizing the Airport environment, providing visibility for the unique cultural life of San Francisco, and presenting educational services for the traveling public.  The Museum was granted initial accreditation from the American Association of Museums in 1999, reaccredited in 2005, and has the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport.  Today, SFO Museum features approximately twenty galleries throughout the Airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions, as well as the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, a permanent collection dedicated to the history of commercial aviation.  To browse current and past exhibitions, research our collection, or for more information, please visit Follow us on,, or


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