Skip to main content
Ages 13+
Under 13
Fliers and Explorers Globe

The world’s most outstanding globe: The Fliers & Explorers Globe


Eighty of the world’s most important explorers’ signatures and routes are written across this globe.

In 1929, John H. Finley, then president of the American Geographic Society and editor-in-chief of the New York Times gave the society the gift of a globe that would be one of the most marvelous artifacts regarding exploration and adventure; an invaluable testimony that still exists today. Finley invited heroes of exploration and aviation to draw their routes on the 45cm-diameter globe, along with their signatures. The society has continued the tradition and by doing so have created a unique symbol of humanity’s insatiable quest to know every corner of this planet.

Those who have signed the Fliers & Explorers Globe are men and women who have explored parts of the earth (and its remote corners) for the first time in documented history, that have achieved new extremes of depth or altitude, invented new forms of travel or broken aviation records. Their achievements were made under great personal and physical risk,” the society’s website says.

Among the long list of explorers that have signed the globe are Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic; Sir Edmund Hillary, the first mountaineer to reach the summit of Everest, and William Beebe, the marine biologist who went down in the bathysphere (a precursor of the submarine) and revealed his finds to mass audiences. There are also famous personalities such as Neil Armstrong and the 13 Apollo astronauts.

The most recent autograph on the globe is from 2012, and since then 12 copies have been commissioned to distribute among members of the American Geographic Society and museums. But the original, which passed from John H. Finley’s hands to those of so many pioneers of brave exploration of our era, is priceless.

If we were to make a list of the most elegant objects history has given us (and we have), the globe would occupy an outstanding place. Although it is not necessarily a good navigational tool, the model globe has always been a great symbol of concepts that we cannot entirely conceive of; but we are present upon it. A testament to that is the Fliers & Explorers Globe, which you can find on the second floor of the American Geographic Society’s modest offices in Brooklyn.


Images courtesy of the The American Geographical Society

Related Articles