FLIERS’ & EXPLORERS’ GLOBE SIGNING CEREMONIES
2012 FLIERS' & EXPLORERS' GLOBE SIGNING CEREMONY
On April 10, 2012, two Russian Cosmonauts signed the globe in the very first globe-signing ceremony held out of the United States. Cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Valentina Tereshkova signed the globe in the presence of the Geography-elite of Russia. AGS President, Dr. Jerome Dobson represented the Members and Council of AGS and presided over the signing following an address by Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation and Chairman of the Russian Geographical Society’s (RGS) Board of Trustees.
On March 18, 1965, Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov stepped out of his spacecraft, Voskhod 2, into history as the first human to walk in space. He floated near his tiny spacecraft for more than 12 minutes with his safety tether allowing him to range more than 5 meters away. This mission conclusively proved that a human being could survive in the hostile and technically challenging environment of extravehicular space. Leonov is one of the original space pioneers, having been selected in 1959 to serve with the first 20 cosmonauts. In 1975 he commanded the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the first linking of Soviet and American spacecraft.
On June 16, 1963, Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. During her three-day mission on Vostok 6, Cosmonaut Tereshkova performed various tests on herself to study the female body’s reaction to spaceflight. She orbited the earth 48 times and took photographs later used in studies of aerosol layers within the atmosphere.
The April 10th globe-signing was part of the Annual Meeting for the Russian Geographical Society’s Board of Trustees. This meeting was held for the first time in the newly restored historic headquarters of the RGS in St. Petersburg. Besides the members of the Board of Trustees, in attendance were many of Russia’s leading business executives as well as special guests from government and academia.
2008 FLIERS' & EXPLORERS' GLOBE SIGNING CEREMONY
The signing of the AGS Globe launched the W. S. Carlson International Polar Year Events, a year-long series of public lectures, seminars, exhibits, films, and other events held at the University of Delaware to celebrate the fourth International Polar Year. AGS and UD were partners in the series, which took place throughout 2008. The series was named for William Samuel Carlson, UD’s 20th President (1946-50), who participated in numerous scientific expeditions to Greenland and helped develop several important air transport routes in the Arctic for the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.
The February 12 ceremony commemorated the epic voyage of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea to the polar limits of the global ocean, under the command of Captain Brigham. In 1994 Brigham took Polar Sea from the Ross Ice Shelf off Antarctica (the southern limit of navigation) to the Arctic Ocean, passing through the North Pole to Svalbard, then circumnavigating North America and Greenland. This spectacular journey also involved considerable scientific accomplishments. The AGS publication FOCUS on Geography featured an article, “The Age of Cryopolitics,” that contains photos of Polar Sea and other U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers.
It was particularly appropriate that Brigham’s signing occurred during the International Polar Year 2007-2009. More than 30 of the Globe’s signers, including Roald Amundsen, Louise Boyd, Laurence Gould, Matthew Henson, Fridtjof Nansen, Robert Peary, Richard Byrd, and Sir Hubert Wilkins, were previously honored for their accomplishments in the polar regions.
The American Geographical Society has a long and illustrious record of accomplishment in exploration, scientific investigation, and mapping in the polar regions. AGS sponsored, or was associated with, many voyages of polar exploration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, beginning with Elisha Kent Kane’s 1853-55 expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. Many AGS medals have been awarded for exploration firsts and scientific accomplishments in the polar regions. Scientific results from polar expeditions are ubiquitous in the pages of the Geographical Review and its predecessor journals. The Society’s Map of the Arctic Region and its Antarctic Folio Series are only two examples of its many major contributions to the mapping sciences in Antarctica and the Arctic. The Society’s former building in New York was home to the U.S. branch of the Arctic Institute of North America during the Institute’s early years. The World Data Center for Glaciology was housed in the AGS building for many years, under the direction of William O. Field.
The February 12 ceremony also featured an illustrated talk by Captain Brigham, describing his 1994 voyage. Brigham was introduced by AGS President Jerome Dobson, AGS Councilor John Noble Wilford of The New York Times, and a previous signer, Dr. Don Walsh, who holds the world record for diving to the deepest point in the world ocean.
Further information can be found at http://www.udel.edu/research/polar/events.html.
2006 FLIERS' & EXPLORERS' GLOBE SIGNING CEREMONY
On November 21, 2006 a pioneer of aerial photography, Mary Meader, placed her signature on the Fliers' & Explorers' Globe at a special ceremony in her honor held at the Upjohn Center on the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
Actually, Ms. Meader wrote her name on the globe in two places, something only three of the more than 70 previous signers have been invited to do. She wrote her name across East Africa and across the Andes, commemorating the pioneering aerial photography she carried out in 1937-1939 in Africa and South America with her then husband, Richard Upjohn Light. Light was the pilot and mechanic on those ventures. Ms. Meader was the photographer, navigator, and radio operator.
Flying a single-engine plane, with unheated and unpressurized cabin, the couple sucked oxygen from a tank using wooden mouthpieces, and Ms. Meader wore a fur coat and boots as she shot pictures through an open window. Since she weighed only 95 pounds herself, she braced the 20-pound camera on the window frame and secured it with a clothesline.
Something of the quality and significance of the photographic record Ms. Meader created can be seen in a permanent exhibit at the Upjohn Center and in a traveling exhibit of her work created by Monica Barnes of the Society of Woman Geographers.
On October 10, 2005, when Mary Upjohn Meader was made an Honorary Fellow of the American Geographical Society, the citation read termed her a geographer, photographer, scholar, and explorer. It applauded her keen and curious eye for uncovering information about the unknown. The stunning quality of her photography shows not only her skill and her artistry but her passion for conveying new knowledge about remote places on Earth. With her camera, Mary Upjohn Meader captured the lives and landscapes of traditions and cultures in Africa and Latin America that no longer exist. Because of that, her work has taken on ever greater significance in today's rapidly changing world.
By inviting her to inscribe her name on the Flyers' & Explorers' Globe, the American Geographical Society celebrates the courage, vision, and spirit with which Mary Upjohn Meader pursued "research from above" in circumstances too difficult and dangerous for us to imagine today.
2005 FLIERS' & EXPLORERS' GLOBE SIGNING CEREMONY
During the winter of 1947-48, Jennie Darlington and Edith (Jackie) Ronne were the first women to winter over in Antarctica. In tribute to their accomplishment, both were to be reunited in 2004 to sign the AGS’ Fliers’ & Explorers’ Globe at the gala signing held in Atlanta that year. Jackie Ronne was able to attend, but Jennie Darlington was ill that day and unable to attend or sign.
Fortunately, on December 14, 2005 Jennie Darlington came to the AGS offices and became the latest of the more than seventy distinguished people to place their signatures on the globe. With a flourish she wrote her name on Antarctica, near those of Ronne and Richard E. Byrd. Representing the AGS Council, Dr. Doborah E. Popper joined the AGS staff and the Darlington family, son Harry (Skipper), daughter Cynthia, and son-in-law, Charles Beyer for the signing and then lunch at St. Maggie’s Cafe.
Jennie Darlington clearly has always been an articulate, witty woman of spirit, adventure, and humor. She never intended to go to Antarctica, but found herself there for her honeymoon. Her new husband, Harry Darlington, was to be the senior pilot on the Finne Ronne expedition to explore and map the Weddell Sea. While working at Save the Children in New York City, she had met Harry, then a navy pilot. Antarctica was Harry’s interest, not hers. At sixteen Harry had gone with Byrd in 1936, tending to the expedition’s dogs. He looked forward to a return trip. As the time for the expedition to depart approached, Jennie and Jackie accompanied their husbands to Valparaiso, Chile. As Jennie recounted, it seemed the expedition might not come off since they were short of money for fuel. Finne approached the New York Times, offering them coverage of the expedition and, to increase the human interest angle, he added the tantalizing fillip of a woman coming along, as the first woman to winter over in Antarctica, as part of the story. The woman was to be his wife, Jackie. The Times bit and sent the money that allowed the group to take off. An unexpected obstacle, however, was the crew’s resistance to having one woman in the party. They preferred two, assuming they would keep each other occupied. Jennie was enlisted.
Jennie’s memories of the experience are of the exhilaration of being someplace so special, of the long nights, of bundling up, of the provisional nature of the camp, and lack of privacy, with the married couples getting a walled-off alcove at one end of the bunks. She recalled the conflicts and disagreements over routes of exploration. She remembered the dangers and the bravery and generosity. She spoke of one expedition member falling through a crevasse and a member from a neighboring expedition risking his own life in undertaking a successful rescue. And she recalled the fear that they might not get out as scheduled when the bay froze them in unexpectedly. An icebreaker was a welcome rescuer.
Jenny’s husband Harry gave his name to a spit along the Weddell Bay. One of the pleasures of the globe signing event was that of watching the family pore over the AGS Antarctica map to locate the exact spot named for Harry Darlington. As Jennie’s daughter peered at the map, she knew she had been there too—in utero, in her case. Jennie’s was the first Antarctic pregnancy. She has never returned to Antarctica, but the family’s interest in exploring and protecting the earth goes on. With the same spirit that took the Darlingtons to Antarctica, the next generation has pushed forward exploration with lighter-than-air technology, particularly applications for environmental monitoring. And many women have since followed in Jackie’s footsteps to Antarctica.
2004 FLIERS' & EXPLORERS' GLOBE SIGNING CEREMONY
Amid the glitter of “The Powerhouse” at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on March 31st and the Atlanta History Center on May 25th, seven signatures were added to AGS’ Fliers’ & Explorers’ Globe at dinners honoring the signers, past and present.
The events were hosted by Marsh Inc., with assistance from Delta Air Lines, and were attended by members of the business communities of New York and Atlanta at the invitation of both companies. AGS Councilors were also invited, to represent the Society and talk with the other guests about AGS.
In celebrating the evening’s honorees, speakers from Marsh and Delta emphasized the extraordinary accomplishments that are possible when risk is well managed, ventures are carefully planned, and partners are carefully chosen--something the business executives present could well appreciate.
Each program began with a brief video presentation about exploration, geography, and the American Geographical Society. That was followed by words from AGS President Jerome E. Dobson about the history-shaping impact of geographers and their work, yesterday and today. He emphasized the role of AGS in alerting others to the opportunities and the threats produced by advances and discoveries in the geographical community. He spoke in particular about the power of Geographic Information Science and its significance for economics, social relations, politics, and warfare.
Then the globe-signings began.
Signing the globe at the New York event were Junko Tabei, who in 1975 was the first woman to successfully climb Mt. Everest; Ann Bancroft and LivArnesen, who in 2001 were the first women to ski across Antarctica; and William Anderson, commander of the Nautilus submarine in 1958 when it was the first vessel to cross the North Pole by water.
Each signer, both the new and the old, described the accomplishment that had led to the invitation to place his or her name on this artifact, which carries more than 70 signatures such as those of Charles Lindbergh, Sir Edmund Hillary, Richard Byrd, Amelia Earhart, and John Glenn. All the signers seemed to find it easier to speak with awe about each other’s accomplishments than about their own. As a result, a spellbound audience heard understated and humorous first-hand accounts of what it was like to carry out feats few would imagine much less attempt. Then they heard from others just how difficult those records were to achieve. Apparently the impact on the listeners was so stunning that they were reluctant to let the evening end. When the program was concluded, guests lingered for more than an hour to meet and talk with the globe signers and the AGS Councilors present. This occurred in Atlanta as well.
At the dinner in Atlanta those signing the globe were Edith (Jackie) Ronne, one of the two first women to winter over in Antarctica (1947-48); Sylvia Earle, who in 1979 set the record for walking untethered on the ocean floor at a depth of 1,250 and who holds records as the world’s deepest woman diver; and Bryan Allen, who in 1977 was the first person to fly a human-powered aircraft, the Gossamer Condor. That craft was designed by Dr. Paul MacCready with Dr. Peter Lissaman, both of whom were present to witness Allen sign the globe. Another special witness present was Harry (Skip) Darlington, son of Jenny Darlington, the other woman in the 1947-48 Antarctican expedition. He was there to represent his mother whose health prevented her from attending to sign the globe.
Ronne was introduced by Keith Greenaway, who signed the globe in 1947 to mark his navigation in 1946 of the first American military flight over the North Pole. Earle was introduced by George Lowe, a member of the British Everest team of 1953, who signed the globe in 1954. Allen was introduced by Neil Armstrong, who signed the globe in 2000 to mark the 1969 Apollo 11 mission on which he became the first human being to set foot on the moon.
In addition to describing Allen’s record-making flight on the Gossamer Condor, Armstrong spoke at length about other inventions and technical achievements that MacCready, with assistance from Lissaman, has continued to produce. Earlier in the day several of the globe signers met with representatives of Delta Air Lines for a tour of its facilities, including the company’s operational control center, and a flight aboard one of Delta’s multi-million dollar flight simulators. Later, in an open employee meeting, Delta employees took full advantage of the opportunity to ask about future challenges as well as past achievements by some of these intrepid explorers and inventors.
At the New York event, Don Walsh made a perceptive comment about all the signers of the globe. An achievement that captures the attention of the world and earns someone the privilege of placing his or her signature on the globe is not a one-time thing in the life of the signer. For each one, it is usually the outcome of long effort, much trial and error, and frequently of many attempts. And, from what the signers on these two occasions told about their subsequent activities, it is clear that those who finally set such records seldom stop at that. They are life-long adventurers who continue seeking other challenges to tackle. Their lives—not just the celebrated deed--are heroic.
Don Walsh described the globe and its signers this way. “This is really something special. It’s almost mystical in the history of exploration. It’s an artifact you will find in no archive in the world—no museum in the word….All the greatest explorers of the 20th Century have put their hands on this globe and have signed it. There is no place where there has been a convergence of the idea—the notion—of exploration, learning more about our planet, than this device, this artifact you see right here. This is very special. To be asked to sign it is a very high honor indeed….It’s a great thing.”
Time had taken its toll on the globe itself. It was in need of repair. Therefore, in 2003, with financial help from the U.S. Aviation Insurance Group and Marsh, the globe was carefully restored by the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, and a secure display case was built for it for these and future Globe events. For that help and for supporting these extraordinary events, Marsh Inc., Delta Air Lines, and the U.S. Aviation Insurance Group deserve the thanks of all who understand the power of a tangible symbol of achievement such as the Fliers’ & Explorers’ Globe.
2000 FLIERS' & EXPLORERS' GLOBE SIGNING CEREMONY
In a ceremony held on December 11, 2000, at the Wings Club in New York City, the American Geographical Society honored seven men who collectively have ventured the deepest and highest in all of human history, traveled farthest by balloon, and discovered catastrophic flooding of ancient seabeds. Honorees included Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard (deepest ocean dive, 1960); Neil Armstrong (first man on the Moon, 1969), Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones (first circumnavigation of Earth by balloon, 1999); William Ryan (discovered 5 million-year-old Mediterranean Sea inundation and 7,500 year-old Black Sea inundation; and Walter Pitman (co-discovered Black Sea inundation). Jacques Piccard could not attend due to health, but all the others were present, and Bertrand Piccard spoke on behalf of his father as well as for himself.
The December 2000 ceremony was the first signing since the 1960s. Honorees were chosen through a formal process by the AGS Explorations Committee, final selection by the AGS Honors Committee and confirmation by the AGS Council. The globe-signing ceremony and associated exploration workshop were funded through a grant from the United States Geological Survey; donations by private contributors including Storm Richards and Associates, the Joseph Aurichio Foundation, and an anonymous donor; and in-kind donations by the Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI), and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).