Terra Cognito: Published Works of Discovery by Aerial Explorers

Aviation Museum & Library

Jul 02, 2016 - Feb 19, 2017

Terra Cognito: Published Works of Discovery by Aerial Explorers

As aviation progressed during the 1920s and 1930s, explorers began to use the new technology to investigate previously inaccessible and unknown regions and aspects of Earth. Aerial surveys revealed lines and geometric patterns of ancient origin on the ground. One of the first to recognize these patterns and to initiate the field of aerial archaeology was the British archaeologist Osbert Guy Stanhope Crawford. During the 1920s and 1930s, he encouraged aerial photographers to document a wealth of sites for archaeological study in Britain and the Middle East.

Charles A. Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh with Inuit at Baker Lake, Nunavut  c. 1932

Explorers Roald Amundsen and Richard E. Byrd used aircraft in expeditions to fly over the North and South Poles and investigate the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica from the air. Walter Mittelholzer first flew over Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro, and Sir Douglas Douglas-Hamilton led a flight over Mount Everest. Lands with nearly impenetrable jungles were explored from the air, including New Guinea by Richard Archbold and the Philippines by George Goddard. Aerial expeditions were also conducted by husband-and-wife explorers, among them Charles and Anne Lindbergh and Martin and Osa Johnson.  

Terra Cognito presents the published works of these aerial explorers detailing their groundbreaking discoveries and adventures in remote, exotic lands. The exhibition presents four major areas of aerial exploration: aerial archaeology, polar exploration, mountain and rain forest exploration, and exploration by married couples. From the collections of the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library, books, magazines, and journal articles are presented, along with associated photographs, maps, and flight covers. Also featured are seven 1:72 scale aircraft models crafted by master model builder Jim Lund.