SEATTLE, Aug. 25, 2009
--Over two hundred years ago in France, balloons designed by brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier were the first craft to take passengers into the sky. Recently, 83-year-old craftsman Alex "Sandy" Morton painstakingly designed and built a 1/10th scale model-seven feet tall-of the Montgolfier's 1783 passenger-carrying balloon for The Museum of Flight. Morton will be at the Museum on Sept. 5 in a program telling the early history of ballooning and how he spent 900 hours making his museum-quality model. After the program he will conduct a personal "tip-to-tail" tour of the model balloon which now hangs on display in the Museum's lobby. The program is at 2 p.m. in the William M. Allen Theater, and is free with admission to the Museum.
Morton's program will look into Joseph and Etienne Montgolfiers' first experiments with ballooning, how they approached the challenges of flight, and even why their balloon was so resplendent in color and ornamentation. Morton will also describe his own challenges in creating a scale model of the Montgolfier balloon from scratch. His balloon was installed on June 4, 2009--exactly 226 years after their first Montgolfier balloon ascended.
Morton was born in 1926. He started building model airplanes 77 years ago in 1932, and he is a World War II Army Air Corps veteran. An electrical engineer, Morton spent most of his career working on secret programs for Lockheed and Electromagnetic Systems Lab. Morton has been a Docent with The Museum of Flight since 2003. In addition to the Montgolfier balloon, he has also build model airplanes for the Museum, including a 1903 Wright Flyer displayed in the Birth of Aviation exhibit in the Red Barn; a World War I Newport 28 and a World War II P-47 in the Museum's Personal Courage Wing. Morton lives in Issaquah.
For photos and more information about Montgolfier balloon exhibit at the Museum, see:
Image: Sandy Morton's model of the Montgolfier balloon. Photo courtesy The Museum of Flight.