My research into fashion of the 1870's is taking a little longer than I hoped - not only is it so interesting that I am continually distracted by images of glorious dress, it is also school holidays here so I am greatly in demand!
During my research I have stumbled upon some lovely images of airships, or dirigibles as they are also known. The word dirigible comes from the French diriger (to direct) plus –ible (direct able or steerable). The first airships were called dirigible balloons, and over time, the word balloon was dropped from the phrase.
Can you believe people have been designing these for so long?
|Airship designed by French engineer and general Jean-Baptiste Marie Meusnier de La Place 1784|
Meusnier presented his design to the French academy, but lack of funds and his untimely death in 1793 prevented its construction.
|An illustration from Jules Verne's novel "Robur the Conqueror" drawn by Léon Benett 1886|
Henri Giffard's design saw fruition. The first flight in the air ship above took place on September 24, 1852. He travelled almost 27 km (17 miles) at about approximately 10 km/hour (6m/h)). The airship could be steered only in calm or nearly calm weather, as the lightweight engine could not combat a strong breeze, which would see it travelling only in slow circles.
|La France, 1884|
In 1884, Charles Renard and Arthur C. Krebs, inventors and military officers in the French Army Corps of Engineers, built an elongated balloon, La France, which was the first airship that could return to its starting point in a light wind, with a sufficiently powerful motor. The first flight took place on August 9, 1884 —a flight of only 8 km (5 miles) - and during 1884 and 1885 made seven flights.
|French postcard from 1906 showing in close-up the gondola of the airship "Patrie" taken from the front, showing the port and starboard propellers|
Wouldn't it be wonderful to take a little trip in one of these? To Egypt perhaps? Or New York?
|The Graf Zeppelin' 1931.|
|USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) flying over southern Manhattan Island, New York City (USA), 1930.|
Ahhh, the serenity...
You can read more about airships here.
Or read the weekly web series of the Flying Cloud airship here.