an aircraft that consists of a cigar-shaped gas bag, or envelope, filled with a lighter-than-air gas to provide lift, a propulsion system, a steering mechanism, and a gondola accommodating passengers, crew, and cargo. All extensions, like the fins and the gondola/control car, are attached to the envelope; the propellers are attached to the gondola/control car.

Soon after the hot-air balloon was invented in 1783, attempts began to control the balloon's flight. Although sails, paddles, and flapping wings were tried, propellers proved to be the most suitable form of propulsion. The French inventor Henri Giffard built a steam-power-driven airship as early as 1852. However, it was not until the invention of the gasoline engine in 1896 that airships became practical, and in 1898 the Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont was the first to construct and fly (1898) a gasoline-powered airship.

For more than a century the principal lighter-than-air gas for both balloons and airships was hydrogen, the lightest of the elements, despite its being highly dangerous because of its extreme flammability. Helium (which although somewhat inferior to hydrogen in lifting strength will not burn or explode) began to be used in the United States in 1917, when a means of extracting it cheaply in large quantities from the natural gas in which it is found was developed. Helium was subsequently adopted as the preferred gas worldwide.

There are three types of airships. In a nonrigid airship, also known as a blimp, the shape of the gas bag is maintained by the internal pressure of the enclosed gas. In a semirigid airship, also known as a keel-airship, internal gas pressure acts in conjunction with a longitudinal keel to maintain the form of the gas bag. In a rigid airship, the form of the gas bag is determined by a rigid framework, usually made of aluminum or a special aluminum alloy called Duraluminium; the framework is formed of longitudinal girders and cross-rings, also made of girders. The whole structure is covered with fabric for aerodynamic purposes. The rigid airship is often called a zeppelin in honor of its inventor, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. It is also often referred to as a dirigible, a shortening of dirigible balloon, from the French ballon dirigeable, meaning steerable lighter-than-air craft.

In 1910 the rigid Deutschland became the world's first commercial airship. Between 1910 and the beginning of World War I in 1914, German zeppelins flew 107,208 miles and carried 34,028 passengers and crew entirely without injury. During World War I, the Germans used rigid airships on both the Eastern and Western Fronts as bombers although airships never became effective offensive weapons. Airships did excel as defensive weapons, and the British used nonrigid airships to patrol their coasts and rigid airships for convoy protection. The U.S. navy operated nonrigid aircraft during the war, as did the French and Italian armies and navies. The U.S. navy continued operating nonrigid airships during and after World War II, the only service in the world to do so. In addition to convoy protection, the airships conducted search-and-rescue, photographic, and mine-clearing missions.

Rigid airships rose to the peak of their commercial success between World War I and World War II. The best-known rigid airships were the Graf Zeppelin, which traveled 20,000 mi (32,000 km) around the world in 1929; England's R34, which crossed the Atlantic in 1919; and the Hindenburg, which burst into flames while preparing to dock at Lakehurst, N.J., in 1937, killing 36 people. No rigid airship was built from the 1930s through the late 1990s.

In 1997 the Zeppelin NT, which uses modern technologies and design innovations to realize a more maneuverable and efficient airship, made its maiden flight and testing began in the hope of putting rigid airships into commercial service once again. The airship, renamed the Bodensee, began tourist flights over Lake Constance in 2001. All of the other airships flying today are of the nonrigid variety. No nonrigid airships are used to carry passengers or cargo; they serve a number of utilitarian functions such as military surveillance, flashing advertising messages, and providing "bird's eye" television images of sporting events.

See L. Gerken, Airships, History and Technology (1990); H. G. Dick and D. H. Robinson, The Golden Age of the Great Passenger Airships (1992); D. H. Robinson, The Zeppelin in Combat: A History of the German Naval Airship Division, 1912–1918 (1993); W. A. Althoff, Sky Ships: A History of the Airship in the United States Navy (1998); G. H. Khoury and J. G. Gillette, ed., Airship Technology (1999).


The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright© 2004, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products N.V. All rights reserved.


Search the Library
Advanced Search
About Questia
Questia is the world's largest online academic library offering full-text books, journals, and articles on thousands of topics.

Join Now...
Questia Books and Articles on: Airship
We found: 899 results
By media type:





Journal articles:




Magazine articles:




Newspaper articles:




Encyclopedia articles:




books on: Airship  - 631 results

       More book Results: 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 >>  
...3. U. S. Army and U. S. Navy Airship Purchases, 1908-1919 112...government purchases of airplanes and airships resulted in atrophy of the manufacturing...hopefully might boost its circulation. An airship overflight sponsored by the Philadelphia...
More book Results: 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 >>


journal articles on: Airship  - 47 results

       More journal Results: 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-47 >>  
...the Skies: U.S. Navy Balloons and the Airship Program. by Jeffrey P. Joyce...the Skies: U.S. Navy Balloons and the Airship Program. By J. Gordon Vaeth. Annapolis...Navys involvement with manned balloons and airships from World War I through the final stratospheric...
Solving the 1897 Airship Mystery. by Ronald J. Ferrara Solving the 1897 Airship Mystery. By Michael Busby. Gretna, La.: Pelican...investigates the fascinating topic of mysterious airship sightings reported from November 1896 to May...
...These developments included balloons and airships. Thus, the time seemingly was auspicious...had been taken in attempts to invent an airship. These were the creation of an ornithopter...reported the following: "The first Turkish airship, the Osmanli, has just undergone its trial...
...Dans le reve ( 1879 ), in which an airship in the form of a womans capped head is...head, no longer winged or smiling. The airship rises from what seems a black sea or, in which the flight of an imaginary airship serves to symbolize the moral regeneration...
...significant that he has people fall from the airships long before the earliest recorded Irish...Clonmacnoise. Carey hypothesises that the airship incident came to Clonmacnoise "riding...People leaving evening service saw an airship dragging a heavy object across the ground...
More journal Results: 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-47 >>


magazine articles on: Airship  - 51 results

       More magazine Results: 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 >>  
Russias romance with the airship. by Clive Foss Clive Foss tells how the airship phenomenon caught the imagination of the Soviet...abroad. For most of the 1920s and 1930s, the airship, or dirigible, seemed the transport of the...
...defying superlatives, this colossal new airship shed extends the tradition and technology...stations, bridges and exhibition halls, airship hangars induce a romantic fascination...hitherto thought to be the worlds largest airship hangar. (Built in 1929 in Akron, Ohio...
...lively period in both exploration and politics to cover, has produced a splendid biography of a splendidly versatile man. By Airship to the North Pole by P. J. Capelotti. Rutgers, 224 pages, $26.00. When Nansens Fram emerged from the ice pack and headed...
...transportation to match the zeppelin-rigid "airship" to the British and Americans, dirigeable...aircraft and rumbling, wallowing steamships, airship travel offered a journey from one place...supersonic flight and space travel, the airship experience seems more the stuff of fairy...
...successful attempts to conquer the air with powered airships. The first man-carrying vessel (the Giffard Airship) had flown in 1852, but with the Krebs-Renard machine, |La France, in 1884, airships reached a truly practical stage. in Germany the...
More magazine Results: 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 >>


newspaper articles on: Airship  - 157 results

       More newspaper Results: 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 >>  
Could 1,500-Job Airship Plan Take off in Wales? Byline: By Sion Barry Western...manufacturing centre for a new generation of high altitude airships. Malaysian company Stratospheric Airship Technologies (SAT) believes it could happen. The company...
...BOASTS PLANS FOR A SPECTACULAR SKYCAT AIRSHIP THAT COULD FERRY 10,000 PEOPLE EACH DAY...Serpentine in Hyde Park, this 1,000-seater airship could be used to ferry visitors and athletes...Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, with the airships test flight set for 2008. "We think...
...London Again? Kevin Pilley Lifts off on an Airship Adventure in Germany. and Discovers the...Hemingway, first flew one of the cigar-shaped airships that bore his name - a full three years...developing aeroplanes instead. The first airships were used for surveillance and bombing...
How an Airship Is Digging for Gems. Byline: By Eric...Moonlight glistens off a huge zeppelin airship as it glides over Botswanas Kalahari desert...said Brad Pitts, who heads De Beers airship exploration programme. "This is the only...
Airship to Keep Eye on Mideast; Nothing like It in the World...JERUSALEM - Israel has begun development of a 200-yard-long airship that would remain stationed at almost 70,000 feet above...distance covering most of the Arab world. "It will be an airship the size of a football field, nothing like it in the world...
More newspaper Results: 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 >>


encyclopedia articles on: Airship  - 13 results

       More encyclopedia Results: 1-10 11-13 >>  
HINDENBURG , airship see airship . ____________________ The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright 2004, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Lernout Hauspie Speech Products N.V. All rights reserved.
AIRSHIP an aircraft that consists of a cigar-shaped gas bag...French inventor Henri Giffard built a steam-power-driven airship as early as 1852. However, it was not until the invention of the gasoline engine in 1896 that airships became practical, and in 1898 the Brazilian Alberto...
BLIMP see airship . ____________________ The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright 2004, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Lernout Hauspie Speech Products N.V. All rights reserved.
...len , 1838 1917, German army officer and airship inventor and builder. He entered the Prussian...devote himself to the building of motor-driven airships. He invented the first rigid airship in 1900, and in 1906 built one that had a speed...
DIRIGIBLE or dirigible balloon: see airship . ____________________ The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright 2004, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Lernout Hauspie Speech Products N.V. All rights reserved.
More encyclopedia Results: 1-10 11-13 >>

 About Questia   ::   Privacy   ::   Contact