Airship
Overview
 

An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat
Aerostat
An aerostat is a craft that remains aloft primarily through the use of buoyant lighter than air gases, which impart lift to a vehicle with nearly the same overall density as air. Aerostats include free balloons, airships, and moored balloons...

 or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudder
Rudder
A rudder is a device used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft or other conveyance that moves through a medium . On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane...

s and propeller
Propeller (aircraft)
Aircraft propellers or airscrews convert rotary motion from piston engines or turboprops to provide propulsive force. They may be fixed or variable pitch. Early aircraft propellers were carved by hand from solid or laminated wood with later propellers being constructed from metal...

s or other thrust
Thrust
Thrust is a reaction force described quantitatively by Newton's second and third laws. When a system expels or accelerates mass in one direction the accelerated mass will cause a force of equal magnitude but opposite direction on that system....

 mechanisms. Unlike aerodynamic
Aerodynamics
Aerodynamics is a branch of dynamics concerned with studying the motion of air, particularly when it interacts with a moving object. Aerodynamics is a subfield of fluid dynamics and gas dynamics, with much theory shared between them. Aerodynamics is often used synonymously with gas dynamics, with...

 aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft
Fixed-wing aircraft
A fixed-wing aircraft is an aircraft capable of flight using wings that generate lift due to the vehicle's forward airspeed. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft in which wings rotate about a fixed mast and ornithopters in which lift is generated by flapping wings.A powered...

 and helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s, which produce lift
Lift (force)
A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a surface force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction. It contrasts with the drag force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction...

 by moving a wing
Airfoil
An airfoil or aerofoil is the shape of a wing or blade or sail as seen in cross-section....

 through the air, aerostatic aircraft stay aloft by having a large "envelope" filled with a gas which is less dense
Lifting gas
Because of the Archimedes' principle, a lifting gas is required for aerostats to create buoyancy. Its density is lower than that of air . Only certain lighter than air gases are suitable as lifting gases.- Hot Air :...

 than the surrounding atmosphere.
Encyclopedia
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An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat
Aerostat
An aerostat is a craft that remains aloft primarily through the use of buoyant lighter than air gases, which impart lift to a vehicle with nearly the same overall density as air. Aerostats include free balloons, airships, and moored balloons...

 or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudder
Rudder
A rudder is a device used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft or other conveyance that moves through a medium . On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane...

s and propeller
Propeller (aircraft)
Aircraft propellers or airscrews convert rotary motion from piston engines or turboprops to provide propulsive force. They may be fixed or variable pitch. Early aircraft propellers were carved by hand from solid or laminated wood with later propellers being constructed from metal...

s or other thrust
Thrust
Thrust is a reaction force described quantitatively by Newton's second and third laws. When a system expels or accelerates mass in one direction the accelerated mass will cause a force of equal magnitude but opposite direction on that system....

 mechanisms. Unlike aerodynamic
Aerodynamics
Aerodynamics is a branch of dynamics concerned with studying the motion of air, particularly when it interacts with a moving object. Aerodynamics is a subfield of fluid dynamics and gas dynamics, with much theory shared between them. Aerodynamics is often used synonymously with gas dynamics, with...

 aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft
Fixed-wing aircraft
A fixed-wing aircraft is an aircraft capable of flight using wings that generate lift due to the vehicle's forward airspeed. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft in which wings rotate about a fixed mast and ornithopters in which lift is generated by flapping wings.A powered...

 and helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s, which produce lift
Lift (force)
A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a surface force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction. It contrasts with the drag force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction...

 by moving a wing
Airfoil
An airfoil or aerofoil is the shape of a wing or blade or sail as seen in cross-section....

 through the air, aerostatic aircraft stay aloft by having a large "envelope" filled with a gas which is less dense
Lifting gas
Because of the Archimedes' principle, a lifting gas is required for aerostats to create buoyancy. Its density is lower than that of air . Only certain lighter than air gases are suitable as lifting gases.- Hot Air :...

 than the surrounding atmosphere. The first lifting gas used was hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

, although this had well-known concerns over its flammability. Where helium
Helium
Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

 was available, which was only in the USA, this non-flammable gas was used instead. All modern airships, since the 1960s, use helium.Some post-WW2 airships still used hydrogen. The first British airship to use helium was Chitty Bang Bang of 1967.

The main types of airship are non-rigid (or blimps)
Non-rigid airship
A blimp, or non-rigid airship, is a floating airship without an internal supporting framework or keel. A non-rigid airship differs from a semi-rigid airship and a rigid airship in that it does not have any rigid structure, neither a complete framework nor a partial keel, to help the airbag...

, semi-rigid
Semi-rigid airship
Semi-rigid airships are airships with a partial framework. These often consist of a rigid, or occasionally, flexible, keel frame along the long axis under the aerodynamic hull envelope. The partial framework can also be located inside the hull...

 and rigid
Rigid airship
A rigid airship is a type of airship in which the envelope retained its shape by the use of an internal structural framework rather than by being forced into shape by the pressure of the lifting gas within the envelope as used in blimps and semi-rigid airships.Rigid airships were produced and...

. Blimps are "pressure" airships where internal pressure, maintained by forcing air into internal ballonet, is used to both maintain the shape of the airship and its structural integrity. Semi-rigid airships maintain the envelope shape by internal pressure, but have some form of internal support such as a fixed keel to which control and engine gondolas and stabilizers and steering surfaces are mounted. Rigid airships have structural skeletons which maintain the shape and carry all loads from gondolas, engines, control surfaces and stabilizers. The skeleton contains numerous balloons, known as "gas cells" which supply the static lift without having to bear any structural loading. The name Zeppelin
Zeppelin
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

 as the type was invented by Count Zeppelin and the vast majority of rigid airships built were manufactured by the firm he founded.

Airships were the first aircraft to enable controlled, powered flight, and were widely used before the 1940s, but their use decreased over time as their capabilities were surpassed by those of airplanes. Their decline continued with a series of high-profile accidents, including the 1937 burning of the hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

-filled Hindenburg
LZ 129 Hindenburg
LZ 129 Hindenburg was a large German commercial passenger-carrying rigid airship, the lead ship of the Hindenburg class, the longest class of flying machine and the largest airship by envelope volume...

near Lakehurst, New Jersey
Lakehurst, New Jersey
Lakehurst is a Borough in Ocean County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2010 Census, the borough population was 2,654.Lakehurst was incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 7, 1921, from portions of Manchester Township, based on the results of a...

, and the destruction of the . Airships are still used today in certain niche applications, such as advertising
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

, freight transportation, tourism, camera
Camera
A camera is a device that records and stores images. These images may be still photographs or moving images such as videos or movies. The term camera comes from the camera obscura , an early mechanism for projecting images...

 platforms for sporting events, aerial observation and interdiction platforms, where the ability to hover in one place for an extended period outweighs the need for speed and maneuverability.

Aerostat

There is some confusion around the term aerostat
Aerostat
An aerostat is a craft that remains aloft primarily through the use of buoyant lighter than air gases, which impart lift to a vehicle with nearly the same overall density as air. Aerostats include free balloons, airships, and moored balloons...

with regard to airships. This confusion arises because aerostat has two different meanings. One meaning of aerostat refers to all craft that remain aloft using buoyancy (static not dynamic lift): in this sense airships are a type of aerostat. The narrower and more technical meaning of aerostat refers only to tethered or moored balloon
Moored balloon
A moored balloon is an inflated fabric structure, often shaped like an airship and usually filled with helium, that is restrained by a cable attached to the ground or a vehicle. Moored balloons differ from airships and free balloons in that it is not free-flying.Moored balloons are sometimes...

s: in this sense airships are not aerostats.

Dirigible

In some countries, airships are also known as dirigibles from the French ( to direct plus -ible), meaning "directable" or steerable. The first airships were called dirigible balloons. Over time, the word balloon was dropped from the phrase. In modern usage, balloon
Balloon (aircraft)
A balloon is a type of aircraft that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. It is distinct from an airship, which is a buoyant aircraft that can be propelled through the air in a controlled manner....

 refers to any buoyant aircraft that generally relies on wind currents for horizontal movement, and usually has a mechanism to control vertical movement.

Gondola

The term "gondola" is used to describe the passenger/instrument and/or engine area of an airship. There may be one or more.

Zeppelin

The term zeppelin is a genericised trademark that originally referred to airships manufactured by the German Zeppelin Company
Luftschiffbau Zeppelin
Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH is a German company which, during the early 20th century, was a leader in the design and manufacture of rigid airships, specifically of the Zeppelin type. The company was founded by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin...

, which pioneered dirigible design in the early years of the twentieth century. The word , German for "airship", usually prefixed their crafts' names.

In modern common usage, the terms Zeppelin, dirigible and airship are used interchangeably for any type of rigid airship, with the term blimp
Blimp
A blimp, or non-rigid airship, is a floating airship without an internal supporting framework or keel. A non-rigid airship differs from a semi-rigid airship and a rigid airship in that it does not have any rigid structure, neither a complete framework nor a partial keel, to help the airbag...

alone used to describe non-rigid airships. Although the blimp also qualifies as a "dirigible", the term is seldom used with blimps. In modern technical usage, airship is the term used for all aircraft of this type, with Zeppelin referring only to aircraft of that manufacture, and blimp referring only to non-rigid airships.

Twin Balloons Airship

On October 22, 2011 the Twin Balloons Airship is made by JP Aerospace
JP Aerospace
JP Aerospace is a volunteer-based organization dedicated to achieving affordable access to space. They have been hired by the U.S. Air Force to provide concepts to allow rapid launch of battlefield communication and monitoring systems....

 has flown to 95,085 feet as the New Airship World Altitude Record. The unmanned tandem airship flew nearly 4 miles higher than any airship before is provided with 2 electric motors each spin a propeller.

Types

  • Non-rigid airship
    Non-rigid airship
    A blimp, or non-rigid airship, is a floating airship without an internal supporting framework or keel. A non-rigid airship differs from a semi-rigid airship and a rigid airship in that it does not have any rigid structure, neither a complete framework nor a partial keel, to help the airbag...

    s (blimps) use a pressure level in excess of the surrounding air pressure to retain their shape during flight. Unlike the rigid design, the non-rigid airship's gas envelope has no compartments. At sea level, the ballonets (internal flexible cells) are filled with air. As altitude is increased, the lifting gas expands and air from the ballonets is expelled through air valves to maintain the same hull shape. To return to sea level, the process is reversed. Air is forced back into the ballonets by both scooping air from the engine exhaust and using auxiliary blowers.
  • Semi-rigid airship
    Semi-rigid airship
    Semi-rigid airships are airships with a partial framework. These often consist of a rigid, or occasionally, flexible, keel frame along the long axis under the aerodynamic hull envelope. The partial framework can also be located inside the hull...

    s, like blimps, require internal pressure to maintain their shape, but have extended, usually articulated keel frames running along the bottom of the envelope to distribute suspension loads into the envelope and allow lower envelope pressures.
  • Rigid airship
    Rigid airship
    A rigid airship is a type of airship in which the envelope retained its shape by the use of an internal structural framework rather than by being forced into shape by the pressure of the lifting gas within the envelope as used in blimps and semi-rigid airships.Rigid airships were produced and...

    s (Zeppelin is almost synonymous with this type) have rigid frames containing multiple, non-pressurized gas cells or balloons to provide lift. Rigid airships do not depend on internal pressure to maintain their shape and can be made to virtually any size.
  • Metal-clad airship
    Metal-clad airship
    Metal-clad airships are airships which utilize a very thin, airtight metal envelope, rather than the usual rubber-coated fabric envelope. The shell may be either internally braced as with the designs of David Schwarz, or monocoque as in the ZMC-2...

    s were of two kinds: rigid and non-rigid. Each kind used a thin gastight metal envelope, rather than the usual rubber-coated fabric envelope. Only four metal-clad ships are known to have been built, and only two actually flew: Schwarz
    David Schwarz (aviation inventor)
    David Schwarz was a Hungarian aviation pioneer of Jewish descent.Schwarz created the first flyable rigid airship. It was also the first airship with an external hull made entirely of metal. He died before he could see it finally fly...

    's first aluminum rigid airship of 1893 collapsed, while his second flew; the non-rigid ZMC-2
    ZMC-2
    The ZMC-2 was the only successfully-operated metal-skinned airship ever built. Constructed at Naval Air Station Grosse Ile by The Aircraft Development Corporation of Detroit, the ZMC-2 was operated by the U.S. Navy at Lakehurst, New Jersey from 1929 until its scrapping in 1941...

     flew 1929 to 1941; while the 1929 non-rigid Slate City of Glendale collapsed on its first flight attempt.
  • Thermal airship
    Thermal airship
    A thermal airship is an airship that generates its lift via the difference in density due to a temperature differential between the gas inside its envelope and the ambient air. Currently all thermal airships use hot air, as used in a hot air balloon, as their lifting gas...

    s use a heated lifting gas, usually air, in a fashion similar to hot air balloon
    Hot air balloon
    The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air...

    s.

Early pioneers

Francesco Lana de Terzi
Francesco Lana de Terzi
Francesco Lana de Terzi was an Italian Jesuit, mathematician, naturalist and aeronautics pioneer...

 is referred to as the "Father of Aeronautics
Aeronautics
Aeronautics is the science involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of airflight-capable machines, or the techniques of operating aircraft and rocketry within the atmosphere...

" in part for his theoretical design of a Vacuum airship
Vacuum airship
A vacuum airship, also known as a vacuum balloon, is a hypothetical airship that is evacuated rather than filled with a lighter than air gas such as hydrogen or helium...

 circa 1670. Structural limitations have prevented this concept from taking flight.

The father of the dirigible was Lieutenant Jean Baptiste Marie Meusnier (1754–93). On 3 December 1783, he presented an historic paper to the French Academy: "Mémoire sur l’équilibre des machines aérostatiques" (Memorandum on the equilibrium of aerostatic machines). The 16 water-colour drawings published the following year depicted a 260 feet (79.2 m) envelope with internal ballonnets that could be used for regulating lift, and this was attached to a long carriage that could be used as a boat if the vehicle was forced to land in water. The airship was designed to be propelled in the air by three airscrew propellers and steered with a sail-like aft rudder. In 1784, Jean-Pierre Blanchard
Jean-Pierre Blanchard
Jean-Pierre Blanchard , aka Jean Pierre François Blanchard, was a French inventor, most remembered as a pioneer in aviation and ballooning....

 fitted a hand-powered propeller to a balloon, the first recorded means of propulsion carried aloft. In 1785, he crossed the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 with a balloon equipped with flapping wings for propulsion, and a bird-like tail for steerage.

The 19th century
Timeline of aviation - 19th century
This is a list of aviation-related events during the 19th century :- 1800s :* 1803** British Rear Admiral Charles Henry Knowles proposes to the Admiralty that the Royal Navy loft an observation balloon from a ship in order to reconnoitre French preparations in Brest to invade Great Britain...

 saw continued attempts at adding propulsion to balloons. The first aviation pioneer of Australia was Dr William Bland, a naval surgeon who was sentenced to seven years transportation in a Calcutta court after a duel in Bombay in 1813. In March 1851, Bland sent designs for his "Atmotic Airship" to the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London where a model was displayed. His idea was to supply power to an elongated balloon with a steam engine installed in a car, Since the lift of the balloon was estimated at 5 tons and the car with the fuel weighed 3.5 tons, the payload was estimated at 1.5 tons. Bland believed that with two airscrews the machine could be driven at 80 km/h (49.7 mph) and could fly from Sydney to London in less than a week. The first person to make an engine-powered flight was Henri Giffard
Henri Giffard
Henri Giffard was a French engineer. In 1852 he invented the steam injector and the powered airship.-Career:Baptiste Henri Jacques Giffard was born in Paris in 1825...

 who, in 1852, flew 27 km (16.8 mi) in a steam-powered airship. Airships would develop considerably over the next two decades: there were reports that on 1 June 1863 Dr. Solomon Andrews
Solomon Andrews (inventor)
Solomon Andrews of Perth Amboy, New Jersey invented the first dirigible airship. The difference of specific gravity between the balloon and the surrounding atmosphere could be converted by a system of inclined planes to steer the craft, without a motor. He referred to his propulsion as...

 had launched the Aereon comprising two horizontal cylindrical gas bags with no motor that "wheeled gracefully and headed back towards them" and that later, pilotless after Andrews had released all ballast, flew in "ascending spirals" and during this ascent that it "was apparent to everyone that the ship was moving with the wind and then against it" with a Herald reporter estimating the speed at 120 mph. In 1872, the French naval architect Dupuy de Lome
Henri Dupuy de Lôme
Stanislas Charles Henri Dupuy de Lôme was a French naval architect. He was the son of a naval officer and was born in Ploemeur near Lorient, Brittany, in western France. He was educated at the École Polytechnique...

 launched a large limited navigable balloon, which was driven by a large propeller and the power of eight people. It was developed during the Franco-Prussian war
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

, as an improvement to the balloons used for communications between Paris and the countryside during the Siege of Paris
Siege of Paris
The Siege of Paris, lasting from September 19, 1870 – January 28, 1871, and the consequent capture of the city by Prussian forces led to French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the establishment of the German Empire as well as the Paris Commune....

 by German forces, but was completed only after the end of the war.

Paul Haenlein
Paul Haenlein
Paul Haenlein was a German engineer and flight pioneer. He flew in a semi-rigid-frame dirigible. His family belonged to the Citoyens notables, those notabilities who led the economy, administration and culture of Mainz.Haenlein received an education as a mechanical engineer and pattern maker...

 flew an airship with an internal combustion engine running on the coal gas used to inflate the envelope over Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, the first use of such an engine to power an aircraft in 1872. Charles F. Ritchel
Charles F. Ritchel
Charles Francis Ritchel, also known as C.F. Ritchel , was an American inventor of a successful dirigible design, the fun house mirror, a toy monkey bank and the holder of more than 150 patented inventions.-Dirigible:...

 made a public demonstration flight in 1878 of his hand-powered one-man rigid airship, and went on to build and sell five of his aircraft.

In the 1880s a Serb named Ogneslav Kostovic Stepanovic
Ogneslav Kostovic Stepanovic
Ognjeslav Kostović Stepanović was an Serbian inventor. He was born in Wiesburg, Austria to a Serbian noble family residing in Pesta, Hungary, but spent most of his life in Saint Petersburg, Russia.He is credited with creating "arbonite" , the first plastic in the world...

 also designed and built an airship. However, the craft was destroyed by fire before it flew.
In 1883, the first electric-powered flight was made by Gaston Tissandier
Gaston Tissandier
Gaston Tissandier was a French chemist, meteorologist, aviator and editor. Adventurer could be added to the list of his titles, as he managed to escape besieged Paris by balloon in September 1870. He founded and edited the scientific magazine La Nature and wrote several books.His brother was...

 who fitted a 1.5 hp Siemens
Siemens AG
Siemens AG is a German multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Munich, Germany. It is the largest Europe-based electronics and electrical engineering company....

 electric motor to an airship. The first fully controllable free-flight was made in a French Army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

 airship, La France
La France (airship)
The La France was a French Army airship launched by Charles Renard and Arthur Constantin Krebs in 1884. Collaborating with Charles Renard, Arthur Constantin Krebs piloted the first fully controlled free-flight with the La France. The long, airship, electric-powered with a 435 kg battery...

, by Charles Renard
Charles Renard
Charles Renard was a French military engineer. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71 he started work on the design of air ships at the French army aeronautical department. Together with Arthur C...

 and Arthur Constantin Krebs in 1884. The 170 ft (51.8 m) long, 66000 cu ft (1,868.9 m³) airship covered 8 km (5 mi) in 23 minutes with the aid of an 8.5 hp electric motor, and a 435 kilograms (959 lb) battery. In 1884 and 1885, it made seven flights.

In 1888, the Novelty Air Ship Company made the Air Ship for Professor Peter C. Campbell which was known as the Campbell Air Ship. The air ship was lost at sea in 1889 while being flown by Professor Hogan during an exhibition Flight.

In 1888–97, Dr. Frederich Wölfert built three airships powered by Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft
Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft
Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft was a German engine and later automobile manufacturer, in operation from 1890 until 1926. Founded by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, it was based first in Cannstatt...

-built petrol engines, the last of which caught fire in flight and killed both occupants in 1897. The 1888 version used a 2 hp one cylinder Daimler engine and flew 10 km (6 mi) from Canstatt to Kornwestheim
Kornwestheim
Kornwestheim is a town in the district of Ludwigsburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated about 10 km north of Stuttgart, and 5 km south of Ludwigsburg.-Entertainment:...

.

In 1897, a rigid airship created by the Hungarian engineer David Schwarz
David Schwarz (aviation inventor)
David Schwarz was a Hungarian aviation pioneer of Jewish descent.Schwarz created the first flyable rigid airship. It was also the first airship with an external hull made entirely of metal. He died before he could see it finally fly...

 and further modified after his death, made its first flight at Tempelhof field
Tempelhof International Airport
Berlin Tempelhof Airport was an airport in Berlin, Germany, situated in the south-central borough of Tempelhof-Schöneberg. The airport ceased operating in 2008 in the process of establishing Schönefeld as the sole commercial airport for Berlin....

 in Berlin. After Schwarz's death, his wife, Melanie Schwarz, was paid 15,000 marks by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin was a German general and later aircraft manufacturer. He founded the Zeppelin Airship company...

 for information about the airship.

A wealthy Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

ian who lived in France, Alberto Santos-Dumont
Alberto Santos-Dumont
Alberto Santos-Dumont , was a Brazilian early pioneer of aviation. The heir of a wealthy family of coffee producers, Santos Dumont dedicated himself to science studies in Paris, France, where he spent most of his adult life....

 had a passion for flying. He designed 18 examples of balloons and dirigibles, and created 18 different examples of the latter before turning his attention to fixed winged aircraft. In 1901, in his airship Number 6, a small blimp, he won the Deutsch de la Meurthe
Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe
Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe was a successful French petroleum businessman and an avid supporter of early aviation...

 prize of 100,000 franc
Franc
The franc is the name of several currency units, most notably the Swiss franc, still a major world currency today due to the prominence of Swiss financial institutions and the former currency of France, the French franc until the Euro was adopted in 1999...

s for flying from the Parc Saint Cloud to the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889, it has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world...

 and back in under thirty minutes. Many inventors were inspired by Santos-Dumont's small airships and a veritable airship craze began worldwide. The well-known aeronaut Stanley Spencer
Stanley Spencer (aeronaut)
Stanley Spencer was an early English aeronaut, famous for ballooning and parachuting in several countries, and later for building and flying an airship over London in 1902....

 claimed he had "out Santosed" Santos referring to his own 1902 flight from Crystal Palace to Harrow. Many airship pioneers, such as the American Thomas Scott Baldwin
Thomas Scott Baldwin
Thomas Scott Baldwin was a pioneer balloonist and U.S. Army major during World War I. He was the first American to descend from a balloon by parachute.-Early career:...

 financed their activities through passenger flights and public demonstration flights. Others, such as Walter Wellman
Walter Wellman
Walter Wellman was an American journalist, explorer, and aëronaut, born at Mentor, Ohio, and educated in the public schools.- Biographical background :...

 and Melvin Vaniman
Melvin Vaniman
thumb|200px|right|Drawing of the air ship Akron in which Vaniman lost his lifeChester Melvin Vaniman was an American photographer, adventurer and businessman who specialized in panoramic images taken from heights. Born to a farming family in Virden, Illinois, he was the eldest of four sons, and...

 set their sights on loftier goals, attempting two polar flights in 1907 and 1909, and two trans-atlantic flights in 1910 and 1912.

"The Golden Age"

The "Golden Age of Airships" began in July 1900 with the launch of the Luftschiff Zeppelin LZ1. This led to the most successful airships of all time: the Zeppelins. These were named after Count von Zeppelin
Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin was a German general and later aircraft manufacturer. He founded the Zeppelin Airship company...

 who began experimenting with rigid airship designs in the 1890s leading to the badly flawed LZ1 (1900) and the more successful LZ2 (1906). At the beginning of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 the Zeppelin airships had a framework composed of triangular lattice girders, covered with fabric and containing separate gas cells. Multi-plane, later cruciform
Cruciform tail
The cruciform tail is an aircraft empennage configuration which, when viewed from the aircraft's front or rear, looks much like a cross. The usual arrangement is to have the horizontal stabilizer intersect the vertical tail somewhere near the middle, and above the top of the fuselage.Often this...

, tail fins were used for control and stability, and two engine/crew cars hung beneath the hull driving propellers attached to the sides of the frame by means of long drive shafts. Additionally, there was a passenger compartment (later a bomb bay
Bomb bay
The bomb bay or weapons bay on some military aircraft is a compartment to carry bombs, usually in the aircraft's fuselage, with "bomb bay doors" which open at the bottom. The bomb bay doors are opened and the bombs are dropped when over the target or at a specified launching point.Large-sized...

) located halfway between the two cars.

Other airship builders were also active before the war: The French company Lebaudy Frères
Lebaudy Frères
Lebaudy Frères was a French sugar producer based in Moisson, France. In addition to sugar, they also made a series of semi-rigid airships in the early years of the twentieth century, some of which saw service with several European armies.-Operation:...

 specialised in semi-rigid airships from 1902 (e.g. the Patrie
Lebaudy Patrie
The Lebaudy Patrie was a semi-rigid airship built for the French army in Moisson, France, by sugar manufacturers Lebaudy Frères. Designed by Henri Julliot, the company's chief engineer, the Patrie was completed in November 1906 and handed over to the military the following month, thus becoming the...

and the République
Lebaudy République
The Lebaudy République was a semi-rigid airship built for the French army in Moisson, France, by sugar manufacturers Lebaudy Frères. She was a sister ship of the Patrie, the main differences between the two being in the dimensions of the gasbag and the ballonet...

), designed by their engineer Henri Julliot, who later worked for the American company Goodrich
Goodrich Corporation
The Goodrich Corporation , formerly the B.F. Goodrich Company, is an American aerospace manufacturing company based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Founded in Akron, Ohio in 1870 as Goodrich, Tew & Co. by Dr. Benjamin Franklin Goodrich. The company name was changed to the "B.F...

; the German firm Schütte-Lanz
Schütte-Lanz
Schütte-Lanz is the name of a series of rigid airships designed and built by the Luftschiffbau Schütte-Lanz company from 1909 until the last LS22 was delivered in 1917. One research and four passenger airships were planned for post-war use, but were never built...

 built the SL series from 1911; another German firm Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft
Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft
Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft, also referred to as LFG, was a German aircraft manufacturer during World War I. They are best known for their various "Roland" designs, notably the Roland C.II and Roland D.VI, although they also produced a number of airships and experimental...

 built the Parseval
August von Parseval
August von Parseval was a German airship designer.As a boy, Von Parseval attended the Royal Bavarian Pagenkorps in Munich from 1873 to 1878, where he took the Fähnrichexamen . He then joined the Royal Bavarian 3rd Infantry Regiment Prinz Carl von Bayern...

-Luftschiff
(PL) series from 1909, and Italian Enrico Forlanini
Enrico Forlanini
Enrico Forlanini was an Italian engineer, inventor and aeronautical pioneer, well known for his works on helicopters, aircraft, hydrofoils and dirigibles. He was born in Milan...

's firm had built and flown the first two Forlanini airships
Forlanini airships
This is a complete list of Forlanini airships designed and built by the Italian pioneer Enrico Forlanini from 1900 to 1931 . These, like the German Groß-Basenach semi-rigid airships, were the first to have the gondola attached to the envelope, to reduce air resistance.-F.1 Leonardo da...

.

In 1910 Walter Wellman
Walter Wellman
Walter Wellman was an American journalist, explorer, and aëronaut, born at Mentor, Ohio, and educated in the public schools.- Biographical background :...

 unsuccessfully attempted the first aerial crossing of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 on airship America
America (airship)
The America was a non-rigid airship built by Mutin Godard in France in 1906 for Walter Wellman's attempt to reach the North Pole by air. Wellman had been inspired to fly to the pole during a failed overland attempt in 1893. When he saw a French dirigible at the Portsmouth Peace Conference in 1905,...

.

World War I

The prospect of airships as bombers had been recognised in Europe well before the airships were up to the task. H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

' The War in the Air
The War in the Air
The War in the Air is a novel by H. G. Wells, written in 1907, serialized and published in 1908 in the Pall Mall Magazine. Like many of Wells’s works, it is notable for its prophetic ideas, images, and concepts, in this case, the use of the aircraft for the purpose of warfare and the coming of...

(1908) described the obliteration of entire fleets and cities by airship attack. On 5 March 1912, Italian forces became the first to use dirigibles for a military purpose during reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 west of Tripoli
Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

 behind Turkish
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 lines. It was World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, however, that marked the airship's real debut as a weapon.
Albert Caquot
Albert Caquot
Albert Caquot was considered as the "best living French engineer" during half a century. He received the “Croix de guerre 1914-1918” and was Grand-croix of the Légion d’Honneur...

 designed an Observation balloon
Observation balloon
Observation balloons are balloons that are employed as aerial platforms for intelligence gathering and artillery spotting. Their use began during the French Revolutionary Wars, reaching their zenith during World War I, and they continue in limited use today....

 for the French army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

 in 1914. The tethered Type R Observation balloon was used by all the allied forces, including the British and United States Armies, at the end of the World War.

The Germans, French and Italians all operated airships in scouting and tactical bombing roles early in the war, and all learned that the airship was too vulnerable for operations over the front. The decision to end operations in direct support of armies was made by all in 1917.
Count Zeppelin and others in the German military believed they had found the ideal weapon with which to counteract British Naval superiority and strike at Britain itself. More realistic airship advocates believed the Zeppelin was a valuable long range scout/attack craft for naval operations. Raids began by the end of 1914, reached a first peak in 1915, and then were discontinued in August 1918. Zeppelins proved to be terrifying but inaccurate weapons. Navigation, target selection and bomb-aiming proved to be difficult under the best of conditions. The darkness, high altitudes and clouds that were frequently encountered by Zeppelin missions reduced accuracy even further. The physical damage done by the Zeppelins over the course of the war was trivial, and the deaths that they caused (though visible) amounted to a few hundred at most. The Zeppelins were initially immune to attack by aircraft and antiaircraft guns: as the pressure in their envelopes was only just higher than ambient air, holes had little effect. But once incendiary bullets were developed and used against them, their flammable hydrogen lifting gas made them vulnerable at lower altitudes. Several were shot down in flames by British defenders, and others crashed en route. They then started flying higher and higher above the range of other aircraft, but this made their bombing accuracy even worse and success harder to achieve.

In retrospect, advocates of the naval scouting role of the airship proved to be correct, and the land bombing campaign proved to be disastrous in terms of morale, men and material. Many pioneers of the German airship service died in what was the first strategic bombing campaign in history.

Countermeasures by the British were sound detection equipment, search lights and anti-aircraft artillery, followed by night fighters in 1915. One method used early in the war when short range meant the airships had to fly from forward bases, and when the only Zeppelin production facilities were in Friedrichshafen, was bombing of airship sheds by the British Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Naval Air Service
The Royal Naval Air Service or RNAS was the air arm of the Royal Navy until near the end of the First World War, when it merged with the British Army's Royal Flying Corps to form a new service , the Royal Air Force...

. Late in the war, the development of the aircraft carrier led to the first successful carrier air strike in history. The morning of 19 July 1918, seven Sopwith 2F.1 Camels
Sopwith Camel
The Sopwith Camel was a British First World War single-seat biplane fighter introduced on the Western Front in 1917. Manufactured by Sopwith Aviation Company, it had a short-coupled fuselage, heavy, powerful rotary engine, and concentrated fire from twin synchronized machine guns. Though difficult...

 were launched from and struck the airship base at Tondern, destroying the Zeppelins L 54 and L 60.

Before the World War, the British Army was interested in blimps for scouting purposes. The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, recognizing the potential threat that scouting Zeppelins might pose, decided in 1908 to produce an example of rigid airship so that the threat might be evaluated in practice instead of theory. The Royal Navy was to continue development of rigid airships until the end of the war. The British Army abandoned airship development in favour of aeroplanes by the start of the war, but the Royal Navy had recognised the need for small airships to counteract the submarine and mine threat in coastal waters. Beginning in February 1915, they began to deploy the SS
SS class blimp
SS class blimps were simple, cheap and easily assembled small non-rigid airships that were developed as a matter of some urgency to counter the German U-boat threat to British shipping during World War I...

 (Sea Scout) class of blimp. These had a small envelope of 1,699-1,982 m³ (60–70,000 ft³) and at first used standard single engined planes (BE2c, Maurice Farman, Armstrong FK) shorn of wing and tail surfaces as control cars, as an economy measure. Eventually more advanced blimps with purpose built cars, such as the C
Coastal class blimp
The Coastal Class were a class of blimp used by the Royal Naval Air Service during World War I. The C class blimp operated by the United States Navy after the war was a completely unrelated design. In total 35 Coastals were built, all at RNAS Kingsnorth, Kent...

 (Coastal), C*
C-Star class blimp
-References:* London, P. U-Boat Hunters: Cornwall's Air War 1916-19 Dyllansow Truran, Truro. ISBN 1-85022-136-9-External links:*...

 (Coastal Star), NS
NS class blimp
The British NS class blimps were the largest and last in a succession of non-rigid airship designs that served with the Royal Naval Air Service during World War I; developed from experiences gained with earlier classes to operate off the east coast of Britain on long-range patrols...

 (North Sea), SSP
SSP class blimp
|-See also:-External links:* *...

 (Sea Scout Pusher), SSZ
SSZ class blimp
|-See also:-External links:*...

 (Sea Scout Zero), SSE
SST class blimp
|-See also:-External links:* *...

 (Sea Scout Experimental) and SST
SST class blimp
|-See also:-External links:* *...

 (Sea Scout Twin) classes were developed. The NS class, after initial teething problems, proved to be the largest and finest airships in British service. They had a gas capacity of 360000 cu ft (10,194.1 m³), a crew of 10 and an endurance of 24 hours. Six 230 lb (104.3 kg) bombs were carried, as well as three to five machine guns.
British blimps were used for scouting, mine clearance, and submarine attack duties. During the war, the British operated 226 airships, mostly non-rigid, most of which were of indigenous construction, though some non-rigid airships operated were purchased from France and even Germany (before the war). Of that number several were sold to Russia, France, the US and Italy. Britain, in turn, purchased one M-type semi-rigid from Italy whose delivery was delayed until 1918. Nine rigid airships had been completed by the armistice, although several more were in an advanced state of completion by the war's end. The large number of trained crews, low attrition rate and constant experimentation in handling techniques meant that at the war's end Britain was the world leader in non-rigid airship technology.

Both France and Italy continued airships throughout the war. France preferred non-rigid types while Italy operated 49 semi-rigid airships in both the scouting and bombing roles.

Airplanes had essentially replaced airships as bombers by the end of the war, and Germany's remaining zeppelins were scuttled by their crews, scrapped or handed over to the Allied powers as spoils of war. The British rigid airship program, meanwhile, had been largely a reaction to the potential threat of the German one and was largely, though not entirely, based on imitations of the German ships.

Inter-war period

A number of nations operated airships between the two world wars. Many operated blimps. Britain, the United States and Germany were the main operators of rigid airships with Italy and France using them to a lesser extent. Italy, the Soviet Union, United States and Japan mainly concentrated on semi-rigid airships. On May 12, 1926, The Italian Norge
Norge (airship)
The Norge was a semi-rigid Italian-built airship that carried out what many consider the first verified overflight of the North Pole on May 12, 1926. It was also the first aircraft to fly over the polar ice cap between Europe and America...

, a semi-rigid airship, was the first aircraft confirmed to fly over the North Pole
North Pole
The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is, subject to the caveats explained below, defined as the point in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface...

.

The British R33 and R34 were near-identical copies of the German L 33, which crashed virtually intact in Yorkshire on 24 September 1916
1916 in aviation
This is a list of aviation-related events from 1916:- Events :* Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft simulate night torpedo attacks for the first time against Japanese fleet units in Tateyama Bay during annual fleet maneuvers, although no torpedoes are dropped....

. Despite being almost three years out of date by the time they were launched in 1919, they were two of the most successful in British service. The creation of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in early 1918 created a hybrid British airship program. The RAF was not interested in airships and the Admiralty was, so a deal was made where the Admiralty would design any future military airships while the RAF would handle manpower, facilities and operations. After the armistice, the airship program was rapidly wound down, and rigid airship operations were curtailed. On 2 July 1919, R34 began the first double crossing of the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 by an aircraft. It landed at Mineola, Long Island on 6 July after 108 hours in the air. The return crossing began on 8 July because of concerns about mooring
Mooring mast
A mooring mast, or mooring tower, is a structure designed to allow for the docking of an airship outside of an airship hangar or similar structure...

 the ship in the open, and took 75 hours. Impressed, British leaders began to contemplate a fleet of airships to link Britain to its far-flung colonies, although post-war economic conditions led to the scrapping of most airships and dispersion of trained personnel. British airship developement resumed with the Imperial Airship Scheme of 1924, which produced the R-100 and R-101, both flown in in 1929. The major consequence of Britain's interest in establishing airship service to the empire was the effort to use the Allies' seizure of German airships and airship sheds to avoid competition from Germany. The US Navy contracted to buy the British built R-38, but before that airship was turned over to the US, it was lost to structural failure due to both inadequate structural design and operation.

The first American-built rigid airship was , christened on 20 August in Lakehurst
Lakehurst, New Jersey
Lakehurst is a Borough in Ocean County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2010 Census, the borough population was 2,654.Lakehurst was incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 7, 1921, from portions of Manchester Township, based on the results of a...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

. It flew in 1923, while the Los Angeles was under construction. It was the first ship to be inflated with the noble gas
Noble gas
The noble gases are a group of chemical elements with very similar properties: under standard conditions, they are all odorless, colorless, monatomic gases, with very low chemical reactivity...

 helium
Helium
Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

, which was still so rare that the Shenandoah contained most of the world's reserves. When the Los Angeles was delivered, the two airships had to share the limited supply of Helium, and thus alternated operating and overhauls.

For information about the legacy of the USS Shenandoah and its demise over rural Ohio, see Aaron J. Keirns' book America's Forgotten Airship Disaster: The Crash of the USS Shenandoah.

The United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 purchased what became the and paid with "war reparations" money, owed according to the Versailles Treaty, thus saving The Zeppelin works. The success of the Los Angeles encouraged the US Navy to invest in its own, larger airships. The Los Angeles flew successfully for 8 years.

Meanwhile Germany was building the Graf Zeppelin (LZ 127)
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin was a German built and operated passenger-carrying hydrogen-filled rigid airship which operated commercially from 1928 to 1937. It was named after the German pioneer of airships, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was a Graf or Count in the German nobility. During its operating life,...

, the largest airship that could be built in the company's existing shed, and intended to stimulate interest in passenger airships. The Graf Zeppelin burned blau gas
Blau gas
Blau gas was an artificial illuminating gas similar to propane, named after its inventor, Dr. Hermann Blau of Augsburg, Germany. It was manufactured by decomposing mineral oils in retorts by heat and compressing the resulting naphtha until it liquefied. It was transported in this condition, and...

, similar to propane
Propane
Propane is a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula , normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid. A by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it is commonly used as a fuel for engines, oxy-gas torches, barbecues, portable stoves, and residential central...

, stored in large gas bags below the hydrogen cells, as fuel. Since its density was similar to that of air, it avoided the weight change when fuel was used, and thus the need to valve
Valve
A valve is a device that regulates, directs or controls the flow of a fluid by opening, closing, or partially obstructing various passageways. Valves are technically pipe fittings, but are usually discussed as a separate category...

 hydrogen. The Graf was a great success and compiled an impressive safety record, flying over 1600000 km (994,196.4 mi) (including the first circumnavigation of the globe by air) without a single passenger injury.

The US Navy developed the idea of using airships as airborne aircraft carrier
Airborne aircraft carrier
Airborne aircraft carriers are aircraft which can launch other aircraft. These typically are large aircraft that launch fighter-interceptor planes.-Dirigible aircraft carriers:...

s, although the British had experimented with a plane trapeze on their R33 many years before. The USS Los Angeles
USS Los Angeles (ZR-3)
The second USS Los Angeles was a rigid airship, designated ZR-3, that was built in 1923-1924 by the Zeppelin factory in Friedrichshafen, Germany, where it was originally designated LZ-126...

 was used to experiment with the project, followed by two other airships, the world's largest at the time, to test the principle—the and . Each carried four F9C Sparrowhawk
F9C Sparrowhawk
|-See also:-External links:...

 fighters
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

 in its hangar, and could carry a fifth on the trapeze. The idea had mixed results. By the time the Navy started to develop a sound doctrine for using the ZRS-type airships, the last of the two built, USS Macon, was lost. The seaplane had become more mature, and was considered a better investment.

Eventually the US Navy lost all three American-built rigid airships to accidents. USS Shenandoah on a poorly planned publicity flight flew into a severe thunderstorm over Noble County, Ohio
Noble County, Ohio
Noble County is a county located in the state of Ohio. As of the 2010 census, the population was 14,645. Its county seat is Caldwell. Noble County is named for Rep. Warren P. Noble of the Ohio House of Representatives, who was an early settler there.-History:...

 on 3 September 1925
1925 in aviation
This is a list of aviation-related events from 1925:-Events:* In the United Kingdom, the first Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadrons are formed....

. It broke into pieces, killing 14 of its crew. USS Akron was caught in a severe storm and flown into the surface of the sea off the shore of New Jersey on 3 April 1933
1933 in aviation
This is a list of aviation-related events from 1933:- Events :* The United States Coast Guard requests authorization to construct its first cutters with a capability of carrying aircraft.* Tokyo conducts it first blackout exercise....

. It carried no life boats and few life vests, so 73 of its crew of 76 died from drowning or hypothermia. USS Macon was lost after suffering a structural failure off the shore of Point Sur Lightstation State Historic Park
Point Sur Lightstation State Historic Park
The Point Sur Lightstation State Historic Park is located on the Big Sur coastline of Monterey County, south of Rio Road in Carmel. It is both a California state park and on the National Register of Historic Places.-History:...

 on 12 February 1935
1935 in aviation
This is a list of aviation-related events from 1935:- Events :* Employing aerial refueling, a sustained flight record of 653 hours 33 minutes is set...

. The failure caused a loss of gas, which was made much worse when the aircraft was driven over pressure height causing it to lose too much helium to maintain flight. Only 2 of its crew of 83 died in the crash thanks to the inclusion of life jackets and inflatable rafts after the Akron disaster.

Britain's Burney Scheme and decline in airships

During the 1920s, Sir Dennistoun Burney
Charles Dennistoun Burney
Sir Charles Dennistoun Burney, 2nd Baronet was an English aeronautical engineer, private inventor and Conservative Party politician....

 suggested a plan for an air service throughout the British Empire using airships (the Burney Scheme). Following the election of Ramsay MacDonald
Ramsay MacDonald
James Ramsay MacDonald, PC, FRS was a British politician who was the first ever Labour Prime Minister, leading a minority government for two terms....

 in 1924, the Burney scheme was transformed into a government-controlled program, the Imperial Airship Scheme
Imperial Airship Scheme
The British Imperial Airship Scheme was a project to improve communication with the far corners of the British Empire by establishing air routes using airships...

, which contracted for two airships, one to be developed by the a private company, the Airship Guarantee Company, and the other under Air Ministry control by the Royal Airship Works. The two designs were radically different. The "capitalist" ship, the R100
R100
HM Airship R100 was a privately designed and built rigid airship made as part of a two-ship competition to develop new techniques for a projected larger commercial airship for use on British empire routes...

, was more conventional, while the "socialist" ship, the R101
R101
R101 was one of a pair of British rigid airship completed in 1929 as part of a British government programme to develop civil airships capable of service on long-distance routes within the British Empire. It was designed and built by an Air Ministry-appointed team and was effectively in competition...

, had many innovative design features. Construction of both took longer than expected, and the airships did not fly until 1929. Neither airship was capable of the service intended, though the R100 did complete a proving flight to Canada and back in 1930. However, on 5 October 1930 the R101, which had not been thoroughly tested after major modifications, crashed on its maiden voyage of life at Beauvais in France killing 48 of the 54 people aboard. Among the dead were the craft's chief designer and the Secretary of State for Air. Because of the bad publicity surrounding the crash, the Air Ministry grounded the competing R100 in 1930 and sold it for scrap in 1931, ending the era of British rigid airships.

The Empire State Building
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is a 102-story landmark skyscraper and American cultural icon in New York City at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. It has a roof height of 1,250 feet , and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 1,454 ft high. Its name is derived...

 was completed in 1931 with a dirigible mast, in anticipation of passenger airship service. Various entrepreneurs experimented with commuting and shipping freight via airship.

By the mid-1930s only Germany still pursued airship development. The Zeppelin company continued to operate the Graf Zeppelin on passenger service between Frankfurt and Recife
Recife
Recife is the fifth-largest metropolitan area in Brazil with 4,136,506 inhabitants, the largest metropolitan area of the North/Northeast Regions, the 5th-largest metropolitan influence area in Brazil, and the capital and largest city of the state of Pernambuco. The population of the city proper...

 in Brazil, taking 68 hours. Even with the small Graf Zeppelin, the operation was almost profitable. In the mid-1930s work started to build an airship designed specifically to operate a passenger service across the Atlantic. The Hindenburg (LZ 129)
LZ 129 Hindenburg
LZ 129 Hindenburg was a large German commercial passenger-carrying rigid airship, the lead ship of the Hindenburg class, the longest class of flying machine and the largest airship by envelope volume...

 completed a very successful 1936 season carrying passengers between Lakehurst, New Jersey
Lakehurst, New Jersey
Lakehurst is a Borough in Ocean County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2010 Census, the borough population was 2,654.Lakehurst was incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 7, 1921, from portions of Manchester Township, based on the results of a...

 and Germany. 1937 started with the most spectacular and widely remembered airship accident. Approaching the mooring mast
Mooring mast
A mooring mast, or mooring tower, is a structure designed to allow for the docking of an airship outside of an airship hangar or similar structure...

 minutes before landing on 6 May 1937, the Hindenburg burst into flames and crashed. Of the 97 people aboard, 36 died: 13 passengers, 22 aircrew, and one American ground-crewman. The disaster happened before a large crowd, was filmed and a radio news reporter
Herbert Morrison (announcer)
Herbert Morrison was an American radio reporter best known for his dramatic report of the Hindenburg disaster, a catastrophic fire that destroyed the LZ 129 Hindenburg zeppelin on May 6, 1937, killing 36 people.-Hindenburg disaster:...

 was recording the arrival. This was a disaster which theater goers could see and hear the next day. The Hindenburg disaster shattered public confidence in airships, and brought a definitive end to the "golden age". The day after Hindenburg crashed, the Graf Zeppelin landed at the end of its flight from Brazil, ending intercontinental passenger airship travel.

Hindenburgs sister ship, the Graf Zeppelin II (LZ 130)
LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin
The Graf Zeppelin II was the last of the great German rigid airships built by the Zeppelin Luftschiffbau during the period between the World Wars, the second and final ship of the Hindenburg class named in honor of Paul von Hindenburg...

, could not perform commercial passenger flights without helium, which the United States refused to sell. The Graf Zeppelin flew some test flights and conducted electronic espionage until 1939 when it was grounded due to the start of the war. The last two Zeppelins were scrapped in 1940.

Development of airships continued only in the United States, and to a smaller extent, the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union had several semi-rigid and non-rigid airships. The semi-rigid SSSR-V6 OSOAVIAKhIM was among the largest of these craft, and set the longest endurance flight at the time of over 130 hours. However, it crashed into a mountain in 1938, killing 13 of the 19 people on board. While this was a severe blow towards the Russian airship programme, they continued to operate non-rigid airships until 1950.

World War II

While Germany determined that airships were obsolete for military purposes in the coming war and concentrated on the development of airplanes, the United States pursued a program of military airship construction even though it had not developed a clear military doctrine
Military doctrine
Military doctrine is the concise expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, major operations, battles, and engagements.It is a guide to action, not hard and fast rules. Doctrine provides a common frame of reference across the military...

 for airship use. At the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

 on 7 December 1941 that brought the United States into World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, it had 10 non-rigid airships:
  • 4 K-class: K-2, K-3, K-4 and K-5 designed as patrol ships built from 1938.
  • 3 L-class: L-1, L-2 and L-3 as small training ships, produced from 1938.
  • 1 G-class built in 1936 for training.
  • 2 TC-class that were older patrol ships designed for land forces, built in 1933. The US Navy acquired them from the United States Army in 1938.

Only K- and TC-class airships were suitable for combat and they were quickly pressed into service against Japanese and German submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s which were then sinking US shipping within visual range of the US coast. US Navy command, remembering the airship anti-submarine success from World War I, immediately requested new modern anti-submarine airships and on 2 January 1942 formed the ZP-12 patrol unit based in Lakehurst
Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst
JB MDL Lakehurst is a United States Navy base located approximately south-southeast of Trenton, New Jersey. Lakehurst is under the jurisdiction of the Naval Air Systems Command...

 from the four K airships. The ZP-32 patrol unit was formed from two TC and two L airships a month later, based at NAS Moffett Field
Moffett Federal Airfield
Moffett Federal Airfield , also known as Moffett Field, is a joint civil-military airport located between northern Mountain View and northern Sunnyvale, California, USA. The airport is near the south end of San Francisco Bay, northwest of San Jose. Formerly a United States Navy facility, the former...

 in Sunnyvale, California
Sunnyvale, California
Sunnyvale is a city in Santa Clara County, California, United States. It is one of the major cities that make up the Silicon Valley located in the San Francisco Bay Area...

. An airship training base was created there as well. The status of submarine-hunting Goodyear airships in the early days of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 has created significant confusion. Although various accounts refer to airships Resolute and Volunteer as operating as "privateers" under a Letter of Marque
Letter of marque
In the days of fighting sail, a Letter of Marque and Reprisal was a government licence authorizing a person to attack and capture enemy vessels, and bring them before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale...

, Congress never authorized a commission, nor did the President sign one.

In the years 1942–44, approximately 1,400 airship pilots and 3,000 support crew members were trained in the military airship crew training program and the airship military personnel grew from 430 to 12,400. The US airships were produced by the Goodyear
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company was founded in 1898 by Frank Seiberling. Goodyear manufactures tires for automobiles, commercial trucks, light trucks, SUVs, race cars, airplanes, farm equipment and heavy earth-mover machinery....

 factory in Akron, Ohio
Akron, Ohio
Akron , is the fifth largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Summit County. It is located in the Great Lakes region approximately south of Lake Erie along the Little Cuyahoga River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 199,110. The Akron Metropolitan...

. From 1942 till 1945, 154 airships were built for the US Navy (133 K-class, 10 L-class, seven G-class, four M-class) and five L-class for civilian customers (serial numbers L-4 to L-8).

The primary airship tasks were patrol and convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

 escort near the US coastline. They also served as an organisation center for the convoys to direct ship movements, and were used in naval search and rescue operations. Rarer duties of the airships included aerophoto reconnaissance, naval mine-laying and mine-sweeping, parachute unit transport and deployment, cargo and personnel transportation. They were deemed quite successful in their duties with the highest combat readiness factor in the entire US air force (87%).

In 1944-45, the United States Navy moved an entire squadron of eight Goodyear K class blimp
K class blimp
The K-class non-rigid airship was a class of blimps built by the Goodyear Aircraft Company of Akron, Ohio for the United States Navy. These blimps were powered by two radial air-cooled engines mounted on outriggers on the side of the control car that hung under the envelope...

s (K-123, K-130, K-109, K-134, K-101, K-112, K-89, & K-114) with flight and maintenance crews from Weeksville Naval Air Station in North Carolina to Port Lyautey, French Morocco. Their mission was to locate and destroy German U-boats in the relatively shallow waters around the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

 where magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) was viable. PBY aircraft had been searching these waters but MAD required low altitude flying that was dangerous at night for these aircraft. The blimps were considered a perfect solution to establish a 24/7
24/7
24/7 is an abbreviation which stands for "24 hours a day, 7 days a week", usually referring to a business or service available at all times without interruption...

 MAD barrier (fence) at the Straits of Gibraltar with the PBYs flying the day shift and the blimps flying the night shift. The first two blimps (K-123 & K-130) left South Weymouth NAS
Naval Air Station South Weymouth
Naval Air Station South Weymouth, or SOWEY as it is sometimes known, was an operational United States Navy airfield from 1942 to 1997. It was first established as a regular Navy blimp base during World War II...

 on 28 May 1944 and flew to Argentia, Newfoundland
Naval Station Argentia
Naval Station Argentia is a former base of the United States Navy that operated from 1941-1994. It was established in the community of Argentia in what was then the Dominion of Newfoundland, which later became the tenth Canadian province .-Construction:Established under the British-U.S...

, the Azores
Lajes Field
Lajes Field or Lajes Air Base , officially designated Air Base No. 4 , is a multi-use air field, home to the Portuguese Air Force Base Aérea Nº4 and Azores Air Zone Command , a United States Air Force detachment , and a regional air passenger terminal located near Lajes...

, and finally to Port Lyautey
Kenitra Airport
Kenitra Air Base is a military airport in Kenitra, the capital city of the Gharb-Chrarda-Béni Hssen region in Morocco. It is also known as the Third Royal Air Force Base, operated by the Royal Moroccan Air Force.-History:...

 where they completed the first transatlantic crossing by non-rigid airships on 1 June 1944. The blimps of USN Blimp Squadron ZP-14 (Blimpron 14, aka The Africa Squadron) also conducted mine-spotting and minesweeping operations in key Mediterranean ports and various escorts including the convoy carrying United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 to the Yalta Conference
Yalta Conference
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11, 1945, was the wartime meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D...

 in 1945.

During the war some 532 ships without airship escort were sunk near the US coast by enemy submarines. Only one ship, the tanker Persephone, of the 89,000 or so in convoys escorted by blimps was sunk by the enemy. Airships engaged submarines with depth charge
Depth charge
A depth charge is an anti-submarine warfare weapon intended to destroy or cripple a target submarine by the shock of exploding near it. Most use explosives and a fuze set to go off at a preselected depth in the ocean. Depth charges can be dropped by either surface ships, patrol aircraft, or from...

s and, less frequently, with other on-board weapons. They were excellent at driving submarines down, where their limited speed and range prevented them from attacking convoys. The weapons available to airships were so limited that until the advent of the homing torpedo they had little chance of sinking a submarine.

Only one airship was ever destroyed by U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

: on the night of 18/19 July 1943, a K-class airship (K-74) from ZP-21 division was patrolling the coastline near Florida. Using radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

, the airship located a surfaced German submarine. The K-74 made her attack run but the U-boat opened fire first. K-74s depth charge
Depth charge
A depth charge is an anti-submarine warfare weapon intended to destroy or cripple a target submarine by the shock of exploding near it. Most use explosives and a fuze set to go off at a preselected depth in the ocean. Depth charges can be dropped by either surface ships, patrol aircraft, or from...

s did not release as she crossed the U-boat and the K-74 received serious damage, losing gas pressure and an engine but landing in the water without loss of life. The crew was rescued by patrol boats in the morning, but one crewman, Aviation Machinist's Mate Second Class Isadore Stessel, died from a shark
Shark
Sharks are a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body. The earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago....

 attack. The U-Boat, , was slightly damaged and the next day or so was attacked by aircraft, sustaining damage that forced it to return to base. It was finally sunk on 24 August 1943 by a British Vickers Wellington
Vickers Wellington
The Vickers Wellington was a British twin-engine, long range medium bomber designed in the mid-1930s at Brooklands in Weybridge, Surrey, by Vickers-Armstrongs' Chief Designer, R. K. Pierson. It was widely used as a night bomber in the early years of the Second World War, before being displaced as a...

 near Vigo, Spain

Fleet Airship Wing One operated from Lakehurst, NJ, Glynco, GA, Weeksville, NC, South Weymouth NAS Massachusetts, Brunswick NAS and Bar Harbor ME, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and Argentia, Newfoundland.

Some US airships saw action in the European war theatre. The ZP-14 unit operating in the Mediterranean area from June 1944 completely denied the use of the Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 Straits to Axis submarines. Airships from the ZP-12 unit took part in the sinking of the last U-Boat before German capitulation, sinking U-881 on 6 May 1945 together with destroyers Atherton and Mobery.

Other airships patrolled the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, Fleet Airship Wing Two, Headquartered at NAS Richmond, Florida, covered the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

 from Richmond and Key West, FL, Houma, Louisiana
Houma, Louisiana
Houma is a city in and the parish seat of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, and the largest principal city of the Houma–Bayou Cane–Thibodaux Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city's powers of government have been absorbed by the parish, which is now run by the Terrebonne Parish...

, as well as Hitchcock
Hitchcock, Texas
Hitchcock is a city in Galveston County, Texas, United States. The population was 6,386 at the 2000 census.-History:Hitchcock was created as a station of the railroad between Galveston and Houston in 1873 and around the turn of the 20th century became a vegetable shipping center...

 and Brownsville, Texas
Brownsville, Texas
Brownsville is a city in the southernmost tip of the state of Texas, in the United States. It is located on the northern bank of the Rio Grande, directly north and across the border from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Brownsville is the 16th largest city in the state of Texas with a population of...

. FAW 2 also patrolled the northern Caribbean from San Julian, the Isle of Pines (now called Isla de la Juventud) and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as well as Vernam Field, Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

.

Navy blimps of Fleet Airship Wing Five, (ZP-51) operated from bases in Trinidad
Trinidad
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of it is also the fifth largest in...

, British Guiana
British Guiana
British Guiana was the name of the British colony on the northern coast of South America, now the independent nation of Guyana.The area was originally settled by the Dutch at the start of the 17th century as the colonies of Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice...

 and Parmaribo, Dutch Guiana
Dutch Guiana
Dutch Guiana, also known as Netherlands Guyana or Dutch Guyana , is the name given to various Dutch colonies on the northern coast of South America, created by the Dutch West India Company...

. Fleet Airship Wing Four operated along the coast of Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

. Two squadrons, VP-41 and VP-42 flew from bases at Amapá
Amapá
Amapá is one of the states of Brazil, located in the extreme north, bordering French Guiana and Suriname to the north. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south and west is the Brazilian state of Pará. Perhaps one of the main features of the state is the River Oiapoque, as it was once...

, Igarape Assu, Sao Luiz, Fortaleza
Fortaleza
Fortaleza is the state capital of Ceará, located in Northeastern Brazil. With a population close to 2.5 million , Fortaleza is the 5th largest city in Brazil. It has an area of and one of the highest demographic densities in the country...

, Fernando de Noronha
Fernando de Noronha
Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago of 21 islands and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, offshore from the Brazilian coast. The main island has an area of and had a population of 3,012 in the year 2010...

, Recife
Recife
Recife is the fifth-largest metropolitan area in Brazil with 4,136,506 inhabitants, the largest metropolitan area of the North/Northeast Regions, the 5th-largest metropolitan influence area in Brazil, and the capital and largest city of the state of Pernambuco. The population of the city proper...

, Maceió
Maceió
Maceió is the capital and the largest city of the coastal state Alagoas, Brazil. The name "maceió" is of Indian origin, and designates the natural spontaneously courses of water which flow out of the soil...

, Ipitanga (near Salvador, Bahia
Salvador, Bahia
Salvador is the largest city on the northeast coast of Brazil and the capital of the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Salvador is also known as Brazil's capital of happiness due to its easygoing population and countless popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival. The first...

), Caravellas, Vitoria and the hangar built for the Graf Zeppelin at Santa Cruz, Rio de Janeiro
Santa Cruz, Rio de Janeiro
Santa Cruz is an extensive, populous, mostly low-income neighborhood in the West Side of Rio de Janeiro, the most distant of the central area of the city, at about from downtown Rio. Traversed by the Central do Brasil suburban railway, it has a quite diversified landscape, with rural, commercial,...

.

Fleet Airship Wing Three operated squadrons, ZP-32 from Moffett Field, ZP-31 at NAS Santa Ana, and ZP-33 at NAS Tillamook, Oregon
Naval Air Station Tillamook
Naval Air Station Tillamook, located just south of Tillamook, Oregon, was a U.S. Naval Air Station during World War II. It was used primarily to house blimps. It was commissioned in 1942 and decommissioned in 1948. It includes US Naval Air Station Dirigible Hangar B, listed on the U.S...

. Auxiliary fields were at Del Mar
Del Mar, California
Del Mar is an upscale beach town in San Diego County, California. The population was 4,161 at the 2010 census, down from 4,389 at the 2000 census. The San Diego County Fair is hosted on the Del Mar Fairgrounds every summer. Del Mar is Spanish for "of the sea" or "by the sea", because it is located...

, Lompoc
Lompoc, California
Lompoc is a city in Santa Barbara County, California, United States. The city was incorporated in 1888. The population was 42,434 at the 2010 census, up from 41,103 at the 2000 census....

, Watsonville
Watsonville, California
Watsonville is a city in Santa Cruz County, California, United States. The population was 51,199 according to the 2010 census.Located on the central coast of California, the economy centers predominantly around the farming industry. It is known for growing strawberries, apples, lettuce and a host...

 and Eureka
Eureka, California
Eureka is the principal city and the county seat of Humboldt County, California, United States. Its population was 27,191 at the 2010 census, up from 26,128 at the 2000 census....

, CA, North Bend
North Bend, Oregon
North Bend is a city in Coos County, Oregon, in the United States with a population of 9,695 as of the 2010 census. North Bend is surrounded on three sides by Coos Bay, an S-shaped water inlet and estuary where the Coos River enters Coos Bay on the Pacific Ocean, and borders the city of Coos Bay,...

 and Astoria, Oregon
Astoria, Oregon
Astoria is the county seat of Clatsop County, Oregon, United States. Situated near the mouth of the Columbia River, the city was named after the American investor John Jacob Astor. His American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria at the site in 1811...

, as well as Shelton
Shelton, Washington
Shelton is the county seat, of Mason County, Washington, United States. Shelton is the westernmost city on Puget Sound. The population was 9,834 at the 2010 census. In terms of population, the city is ranked 161 out of approximately 500 municipalities in Washington...

 and Quillayute
Quillayute Airport
Quillayute Airport , formerly known as Quillayute State Airport, is a public airport located approximately west of the city of Forks, in Clallam County, Washington, United States. It is owned by the City of Forks...

 in Washington.

From 2 January 1942 till the end of war airship operations in the Atlantic, the airships of the Atlantic fleet made 37,554 flights and flew 378,237 hours. Of the over 70,000 ships in convoys protected by blimps, only one was sunk by a submarine while under blimp escort.

The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 used a single airship during the war. The W-12, built in 1939, entered service in 1942 for paratrooper training and equipment transport. It made 1432 runs with 300 metric tons
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

 of cargo until 1945. On 1 February 1945, the Soviets constructed a second airship, a Pobeda-class (Victory-class) unit (used for mine-sweeping and wreckage clearing in the Black Sea) which crashed on 21 January 1947. Another W-class - W-12bis Patriot - was commissioned in 1947 and was mostly used for crew training, parades and propaganda.

Modern use

Although airships are no longer used for passenger transport, they are still used for other purposes such as advertising
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

, sightseeing, surveillance and research.
In the 1980s, Per Lindstrand
Per Lindstrand
Per Lindstrand is a Swedish aeronautical engineer, pilot, adventurer and entrepreneur. He is particularly known for his series of record-breaking trans-oceanic hot air balloon flights and, later, attempts to be the first to fly a Rozière balloon around the Earth - all with British entrepreneur,...

 and his team introduced the GA-42 airship, the first airship to use fly-by-wire flight control which considerably reduced the pilot's workload.

The world's largest thermal airship
Thermal airship
A thermal airship is an airship that generates its lift via the difference in density due to a temperature differential between the gas inside its envelope and the ambient air. Currently all thermal airships use hot air, as used in a hot air balloon, as their lifting gas...

 (300,000 cubic feet/8,495 m³) was constructed by the Per Lindstrand
Per Lindstrand
Per Lindstrand is a Swedish aeronautical engineer, pilot, adventurer and entrepreneur. He is particularly known for his series of record-breaking trans-oceanic hot air balloon flights and, later, attempts to be the first to fly a Rozière balloon around the Earth - all with British entrepreneur,...

 company for French botanists in 1993. The AS-300 carried an underslung raft, which was positioned by the airship on top of tree canopies in the rain forest, allowing the botanists to carry out their treetop research without significant damage to the rainforest. When research was finished at a given location, the airship returned to pick up and relocate the raft.

In the spring of 2004, Lindstrand Technologies
Lindstrand Technologies
Lindstrand Technologies was founded by record-breaking balloonist, Per Lindstrand . The factory has been based on the same site in England for nearly 30 years producing lighter-than-air vehicles and inflatable structures....

 supplied the world's first fully functional unmanned airship to the Ministry of Defense in Spain. This airship carried a 42 kilograms (92.6 lb) classified payload and its surveillance mission was also classified. Four years later, this airship, which is designated GA-22, still flies on an almost daily basis.

In June 1987, the US Navy awarded a US$168.9 million contract to Westinghouse Electric and Airship Industries
Airship Industries
Airship Industries was a British manufacturer of modern non-rigid airships active under that name from 1980 to 1990 and controlled for part of that time by Alan Bond. A predecessor company, Aerospace Developments, had been founded in 1971, and a successor, Hybrid Air Vehicles, remains active...

 of the UK to demonstrate whether a blimp could be used as an airborne platform to detect the threat of sea-skimming missiles, such as the Exocet
Exocet
The Exocet is a French-built anti-ship missile whose various versions can be launched from surface vessels, submarines, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. Hundreds were fired in combat during the 1980s.-Etymology:...

. At 2.5 million cubic feet, the Westinghouse/Airship Industries Sentinel 5000 (Redesignated YEZ-2A by the U. S. Navy) prototype design was to have been the largest blimp ever constructed. However, additional funding for the Naval Airship Program was killed in 1995 and development was discontinued.

The CA-80 airship, which was launched in 2000 by Shanghai Vantage Airship Manufacture Co., Ltd., had a successful trial flight in September 2001. This model of airship was designed for the purpose of advertisement and propagation, air-photo, scientific test, tour and surveillance duties. It was certified as a grade-A Hi-Tech introduction program (№ 20000186) in Shanghai, China. The CAAC authority granted a type design approval and certificate of airworthiness for the model CA-80 airship, which has been published in the Jane's All the World's Aircraft for five times (2003–08).

In recent years, the Zeppelin company has reentered the airship business. Their new model, designated the Zeppelin NT
Zeppelin NT
The Zeppelin NT is a class of airships being manufactured since the 1990s by the German company Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH in Friedrichshafen. The initial model is the NT07...

, made its maiden flight on 18 September 1997. As of 2009, there were four NT aircraft flying, a fifth completed in March 2009 and an expanded NT-14 (14,000 cubic meters of helium, capable of carrying 19 passengers) under construction. One was sold to a Japanese company, and was planned to be flown to Japan in the summer of 2004. Due to delays getting permission from the Russian government, the company decided to transport the airship to Japan by ship. One of the four NT craft is in South Africa carrying diamond detection equipment from De Beers, an application at which the very stable low vibration NT platform excels. The project included design adaptations for high heat operation and desert climate, as well as a separate mooring mast
Mooring mast
A mooring mast, or mooring tower, is a structure designed to allow for the docking of an airship outside of an airship hangar or similar structure...

 and a very heavy mooring truck. NT-4 belongs to Airship Ventures
Airship Ventures
Airship Ventures Inc. is a private company offering sight-seeing rides in a 12-passenger Zeppelin NT out of a World War II United States Navy hangar at Moffett Federal Airfield near Mountain View, California....

 of Moffett Field, Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area, and provides sight-seeing tours

Blimp
Blimp
A blimp, or non-rigid airship, is a floating airship without an internal supporting framework or keel. A non-rigid airship differs from a semi-rigid airship and a rigid airship in that it does not have any rigid structure, neither a complete framework nor a partial keel, to help the airbag...

s are used for advertising and as TV camera platforms at major sporting events. The most iconic of these are the Goodyear blimps. Goodyear operates three blimps in the United States, and The Lightship Group
American Blimp Corporation
-External links:** of ABC's Lightship Group subsidiary...

 operates up to 19 advertising blimps around the world. Airship Management Services
Airship Management Services
Airship Management Services, Inc. builds, owns and operates Airship Industries Skyship and Sentinel type airships. AMS, run by George Spyrou, and through associated companies in the U.S., Europe and Japan, provides technical and operational support to airships worldwide...

 owns and operates three Skyship 600
Skyship 600
The Skyship 600 is a modern airship, originally designed by British company Airship Industries, and now owned and operated by Airship Management Services and Skycruise Switzerland AG.The first Skyship 600 made its maiden flight on 6 March 1984....

 blimps. Two operate as advertising and security ships in North America and the Caribbean.

Skycruise Switzerland AG owns and operates two Skyship 600
Skyship 600
The Skyship 600 is a modern airship, originally designed by British company Airship Industries, and now owned and operated by Airship Management Services and Skycruise Switzerland AG.The first Skyship 600 made its maiden flight on 6 March 1984....

 blimps. One operates regularly over Switzerland used on sightseeing tours.
The Switzerland-based Skyship 600 has also played other roles over the years. For example, it was flown over Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 during the 2004 Summer Olympics
2004 Summer Olympics
The 2004 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, was a premier international multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece from August 13 to August 29, 2004 with the motto Welcome Home. 10,625 athletes competed, some 600 more than expected, accompanied by 5,501 team...

 as a security measure. In November 2006, it carried advertising calling it The Spirit of Dubai
Spirit of Dubai
Spirit of Dubai is one of three Skyship 600 aircraft operated by Airship Management Services of Greenwich, CT, USA. These ships are currently the world's largest currently operating non-rigid airships The airship, N605SK and was originally built by Airship Industries in Cardington, UK in November...

as it began a publicity tour from London to Dubai, UAE on behalf of The Palm Islands, the world's largest man-made islands created as a residential complex.

Los Angeles-based Worldwide Aeros Corp. produces FAA Type Certified Aeros 40D Sky Dragon airships.

In May 2006, the US Navy began to fly airships again after a hiatus of nearly 44 years. The program uses a single American Blimp Company A-170 non-rigid airship, with designation MZ-3A
American Blimp MZ-3
The MZ-3A is a blimp owned by the United States Navy since 2006.It is a modified American Blimp Corporation A-170 series commercial blimp and given the USN type/model/series designation MZ-3A and Bureau Number 167811...

. Operations focus on crew training and research, and the platform integrator is Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman Corporation is an American global aerospace and defense technology company formed by the 1994 purchase of Grumman by Northrop. The company was the fourth-largest defense contractor in the world as of 2010, and the largest builder of naval vessels. Northrop Grumman employs over...

. The program is directed by the Naval Air Systems Command
Naval Air Systems Command
The Naval Air Systems Command provides material support for aircraft and airborne weapon systems for the United States Navy. NAVAIR was established in 1966 as the successor to the Navy's Bureau of Naval Weapons . Current Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, is Vice Adm. David Architzel since May...

 and is being carried out at NAES Lakehurst, the original center of US Navy lighter-than-air operations in previous decades.

In November 2006, the US Army bought an A380+ airship from American Blimp Corporation
American Blimp Corporation
-External links:** of ABC's Lightship Group subsidiary...

 through a Systems level contract with Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman Corporation is an American global aerospace and defense technology company formed by the 1994 purchase of Grumman by Northrop. The company was the fourth-largest defense contractor in the world as of 2010, and the largest builder of naval vessels. Northrop Grumman employs over...

 and Booz Allen Hamilton
Booz Allen Hamilton
Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. , or more commonly Booz Allen, is an American public consulting firm headquartered in McLean, Fairfax County, Virginia, with 80 other offices throughout the United States. Ralph Shrader is its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. The firm was founded by Edwin Booz in...

. The airship started flight tests in late 2007, with a primary goal of carrying 2500 lb (1,134 kg) of payload to an altitude of 15000 ft (4,572 m) under remote control
Remote control
A remote control is a component of an electronics device, most commonly a television set, used for operating the television device wirelessly from a short line-of-sight distance.The remote control is usually contracted to remote...

 and autonomous waypoint navigation. The program will also demonstrate carrying 1000 lb (453.6 kg) of payload to 20000 ft (6,096 m) The platform could be used for Multi-Intelligence collections. In 2008, the CA-150 airship was launched by Vantage Airship. This is an improved modification of model CA-120 and completed manufacturing in 2008. With larger volume and increased passenger capacity, it is the largest manned non-rigid airship in China at present.

In 2010, the US Army awarded a $517 million (£350.6 million) contract to Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman Corporation is an American global aerospace and defense technology company formed by the 1994 purchase of Grumman by Northrop. The company was the fourth-largest defense contractor in the world as of 2010, and the largest builder of naval vessels. Northrop Grumman employs over...

 and partner Hybrid Air Vehicles, to develop a Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) system, in the form of three HAV 304's.

An airship was prominently featured in the James Bond film
James Bond (film series)
The James Bond film series is a British series of motion pictures based on the fictional character of MI6 agent James Bond , who originally appeared in a series of books by Ian Fleming. Earlier films were based on Fleming's novels and short stories, followed later by films with original storylines...

 A View to a Kill
A View to a Kill
A View to a Kill is the fourteenth spy film of the James Bond series, and the seventh and last to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Although the title is adapted from Ian Fleming's short story "From a View to a Kill", the film is the fourth Bond film after The Spy Who Loved...

, released in 1985. The Skyship 500 had the livery of Zorin Industries.

Recent developments

In the 1930s, Zeppelins successfully competed with other means of transatlantic transport. Their advantages included the ability to carry significantly more passengers than other contemporary aircraft in greater comfort with less engine noise, vibration and turbulence, while providing amenities similar to those on ocean liners, such as private cabins, observation decks, dining rooms, and even a smoking lounge on the Hindenburg. Less importantly, the technology was potentially more energy-efficient than heavier-than-air designs. Zeppelins were also faster than ocean liners. On the other hand, operating the giants was quite involved, especially in terms of personnel. Often the crew would outnumber passengers on board, and on the ground large teams were necessary to assist starting and landing. Also, to accommodate Zeppelins like Hindenburg (which at 245 metres length was more than two times the length of a typical football pitch), very large hangars were required at airports.

Today, with large, fast, and more cost-efficient fixed-wing aircraft
Fixed-wing aircraft
A fixed-wing aircraft is an aircraft capable of flight using wings that generate lift due to the vehicle's forward airspeed. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft in which wings rotate about a fixed mast and ornithopters in which lift is generated by flapping wings.A powered...

, it is unknown whether huge airships can operate profitably in regular passenger transport though, as energy costs rise, attention is once again returning to these lighter than air vessels as a viable alternative. At the very least, the idea of comparatively slow, "majestic" cruising at relatively low altitudes and in comfortable atmosphere certainly has retained some appeal. There have been some niches for airships in and after World War II, such as long-duration observations, antisubmarine
Anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare is a branch of naval warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, or other submarines to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy submarines....

 patrol, platforms for TV camera crews, and advertising
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

; these, however, generally require only small and flexible craft, and have thus generally been better fitted for cheaper blimps
Non-rigid airship
A blimp, or non-rigid airship, is a floating airship without an internal supporting framework or keel. A non-rigid airship differs from a semi-rigid airship and a rigid airship in that it does not have any rigid structure, neither a complete framework nor a partial keel, to help the airbag...

.

Heavy lifting

It has periodically been suggested that airships could be employed for cargo transport, especially delivering extremely heavy loads to areas with poor infrastructure over great distances. This has also been called roadless trucking. Also, airships could be used for heavy lifting over short distances (e.g. on construction sites); this is described as heavy-lift, short-haul. In both cases, the airships are heavy hauler
Heavy hauler
A heavy hauler is a very large transporter for moving oversize loads which are toolarge to go on a highway without an escort and special permit.-Types of vehicles:...

s. One recent enterprise of this sort was the Cargolifter
Cargolifter
Cargolifter AG was a company created to offer logistical services through point-to point transport of heavy and outsized loads. This service was based on the development of a heavy lift airship, the CL160, a 550,000 m3 vessel designed to carry a 160-tonne payload. Today the shareholder-founded CL...

project, in which a hybrid (thus not entirely Zeppelin-type) airship even larger than Hindenburg was projected. Around 2000, CargoLifter AG built the world's largest cantilever shop hall measuring 360 m (1,181.1 ft) long, 210 m (689 ft) wide and 107 m (351 ft) high about 60 km (37.3 mi) south of Berlin. In May 2002, the project was stopped for financial reasons; the company had to file bankruptcy
Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of an insolvent person or an organisation, that is, one that cannot repay the debts owed to creditors. In most jurisdictions bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor....

. Although no rigid airships are currently used for heavy lifting, hybrid airship
Hybrid airship
"A hybrid airship is an aircraft that combines characteristics of heavier-than-air technology, fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter, and lighter-than-air , aerostat technology."[1]Examples include helicopter/airship hybrids intended for heavy lift applications and dynamic lift airships intended for...

s are being developed for such purposes. John McPhee
John McPhee
John Angus McPhee is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, widely considered one of the pioneers of creative nonfiction....

's The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed is the story of one company attempting this.

Passenger transport

In the 1990s, the successor of the original Zeppelin company in Friedrichshafen
Friedrichshafen
This article is about a German town. For the Danish town, see Frederikshavn, and for the Finnish town, see Fredrikshamn .Friedrichshafen is a university city on the northern side of Lake Constance in Southern Germany, near the borders with Switzerland and Austria.It is the district capital of the...

, the Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH, reengaged in airship construction. The first experimental craft (later christened Friedrichshafen) of the type Zeppelin NT flew in September 1997. Though larger than common blimps, the Neue Technologie (new technology) Zeppelins are much smaller than their giant ancestors and not actually Zeppelin-types in the classical sense; they are sophisticated semi-rigids. Apart from the greater payload, their main advantages compared to blimps are higher speed and excellent maneuverability. Meanwhile, several Zeppelin NT have been produced and operated profitably in joyrides, research flights and similar applications.

In June 2004, a Zeppelin NT was sold for the first time to a Japanese company, Nippon Airship Corporation, for tourism and advertising mainly around Tokyo. It was also given a role at the 2005 Expo
Expo 2005
Expo 2005 was the World's Fair held for 185 days between Friday, March 25 and Sunday, September 25, 2005, in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, east of the city of Nagoya. It was a Specialized International Exhibition under the scheme of the 1972 protocol of the Convention relating to International Exhibitions...

 in Aichi. The aircraft began a flight from Friedrichshafen to Japan, stopping at Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, Paris, Rotterdam
Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

, Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, Berlin, Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 and other European cities to carry passengers on short legs of the flight. However, Russian authorities denied overflight permission so the airship had to be dismantled and shipped to Japan rather than following the historic Graf Zeppelin flight from Germany to Japan.

In 2008, Airship Ventures Inc.
Airship Ventures
Airship Ventures Inc. is a private company offering sight-seeing rides in a 12-passenger Zeppelin NT out of a World War II United States Navy hangar at Moffett Federal Airfield near Mountain View, California....

 began operations from Moffett Federal Airfield
Moffett Federal Airfield
Moffett Federal Airfield , also known as Moffett Field, is a joint civil-military airport located between northern Mountain View and northern Sunnyvale, California, USA. The airport is near the south end of San Francisco Bay, northwest of San Jose. Formerly a United States Navy facility, the former...

 near Mountain View, California
Mountain View, California
-Downtown:Mountain View has a pedestrian-friendly downtown centered on Castro Street. The downtown area consists of the seven blocks of Castro Street from the Downtown Mountain View Station transit center in the north to the intersection with El Camino Real in the south...

 and currently offers tours of the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

 for up to 12 passengers.

Use in exploration

In November 2005, De Beers
De Beers
De Beers is a family of companies that dominate the diamond, diamond mining, diamond trading and industrial diamond manufacturing sectors. De Beers is active in every category of industrial diamond mining: open-pit, underground, large-scale alluvial, coastal and deep sea...

, the diamond mining company, launched an airship exploration program over the remote Kalahari desert
Kalahari Desert
The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa extending , covering much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa, as semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains. The Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert...

. A Zeppelin, loaded with high-tech equipment, is used to find potential diamond mines by scanning the local geography for low-density rock formations - so-called kimberlite pipes. On 21 September 2007, the airship was severely damaged by a whirlwind while in Botswana. One crew member, who was on watch aboard the moored craft, was slightly injured but released after overnight observation in hospital.

Thermal airships and remotes

Several companies, such as Cameron Balloons
Cameron Balloons
Cameron Balloons is a company established in 1971 in Bristol, England by Don Cameron to manufacture hot air balloons. Cameron had previously, with others, constructed ten hot air balloons under the name Omega. Production was in the basement of his house, moving in 1972 to an old church in the city...

 in Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

, United Kingdom, build hot-air airships
Thermal airship
A thermal airship is an airship that generates its lift via the difference in density due to a temperature differential between the gas inside its envelope and the ambient air. Currently all thermal airships use hot air, as used in a hot air balloon, as their lifting gas...

. These combine the structures of both hot-air balloons and small airships. The envelope is the normal cigar shape, complete with tail fins, but is inflated with hot air (as in a balloon) to provide the lifting force, instead of helium. A small gondola, carrying the pilot and passengers, a small engine, and the burners to provide the hot air are suspended below the envelope, below an opening through which the burners protrude.

Hot-air airships typically cost less to buy and maintain than modern helium-based blimp
Blimp
A blimp, or non-rigid airship, is a floating airship without an internal supporting framework or keel. A non-rigid airship differs from a semi-rigid airship and a rigid airship in that it does not have any rigid structure, neither a complete framework nor a partial keel, to help the airbag...

s, and can be quickly deflated after flights. This makes them easy to carry in trailers or trucks and inexpensive to store. They are usually very slow moving, with a typical top speed of 25–30 km/h (15–20 mph, 6.7–8.9 m/s). They are mainly used for advertising, but at least one has been used in rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

s for wildlife observation, as they can be easily transported to remote areas.

Remote-controlled
Remote control
A remote control is a component of an electronics device, most commonly a television set, used for operating the television device wirelessly from a short line-of-sight distance.The remote control is usually contracted to remote...

 (RC) airships, a type of unmanned aerial system (UAS), are sometimes used for commercial purposes such as advertising and aerial video and photography as well as recreational purposes. They are particularly common as an advertising mechanism at indoor stadiums. While RC airships are sometimes flown outdoors, doing so for commercial purposes is illegal in the US. In particular, Docket FAA-2006-25714 states that: "The FAA recognizes that people and companies other than modelers might be flying UAS with the mistaken understanding that they are legally operating under the authority of AC 91-57. AC 91-57 only applies to modelers, and thus specifically excludes its use by persons or companies for business purposes." The same docket item identifies 14CFR121 as the appropriate certification basis for experimental unmanned aircraft, which would included unmanned airships operating for commercial purposes, so commercial use of a unmanned airship is not prohibited - instead it must be certified under part 121 not 91.

A total of 4,700 total airships and blimps exist across the world.

Prototypes and experimental models

Hybrid designs such as the Heli-Stat airship/helicopter, the Aereon
AEREON
AEREON is an aircraft manufacturer specialising in unique hybrid airships. It was founded in Princeton, New Jersey in 1959....

 aerostatic/aerodynamic craft, and the CycloCrane
AeroLift CycloCrane
The AeroLift CycloCrane was a unique US hybrid airship which adopted helicopter derived airfoil control for low speed flight manoeuvring by spinning on its axis. It was intended to be a heavy load lifter, initially aimed at the Canadian logging industry...

 (a hybrid aerostatic/rotorcraft), have struggled to take flight. The Cyclocrane was also interesting in that the airship's envelope rotated along its longitudinal axis.

In 2005, a short-lived project of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was WALRUS HULA
Walrus HULA
The Walrus HULA was a proposed Hybrid Ultra Large Aircraft. The goal was to create an airship capable of traveling up to 12,000 nautical miles in range, while carrying 500-1000 tons of cargo...

 which explored the potential for using airships as long-distance, heavy lift craft. The primary goal of the research program was to determine the feasibility of building an airship capable of carrying 500 ST (453.6 t) of payload a distance of 12000 mi (19,312.1 km) and land on an unimproved location without the use of external ballast or ground equipment (such as masts). In 2005, two contractors, Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin is an American global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technology company with worldwide interests. It was formed by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta in March 1995. It is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, in the Washington Metropolitan Area....

 and US Aeros Airships were each awarded approximately $3 million to do feasibility studies of designs for WALRUS. In late March 2006, DARPA announced the termination of work on WALRUS after completion of the current Phase I contracts.

The US government is funding two major projects in the high altitude arena. The Composite Hull High Altitude Powered Platform (CHHAPP) is sponsored by US Army Space and Missile Defense Command. This aircraft is also sometimes called HiSentinel High-Altitude Airship. This prototype ship made a five-hour test flight in September 2005. The second project, the high-altitude airship
High-altitude airship
The United States Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency contracted Lockheed Martin to construct a high-altitude airship to enhance its Ballistic Missile Defense System ....

 (HAA), is sponsored by DARPA. In 2005, DARPA awarded a contract for nearly $150 million to Lockheed Martin for prototype development. First flight of the HAA is planned for 2008.

On 31 January 2006 Lockheed Martin made the first flight of their secretly built hybrid airship
Hybrid airship
"A hybrid airship is an aircraft that combines characteristics of heavier-than-air technology, fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter, and lighter-than-air , aerostat technology."[1]Examples include helicopter/airship hybrids intended for heavy lift applications and dynamic lift airships intended for...

 designated the P-791
P-791
The Lockheed Martin P-791 is an experimental aerostatic/aerodynamic hybrid airship developed by Lockheed Martin corporation. The first flight of the P-791 was on 31 January 2006 at the company's flight test facility on the Palmdale Air Force Plant 42. It has a unique tri-hull shape, with...

. The design is very similar to the SkyCat
SkyCat
SkyCat is a class of proposed heavy-lift and ultra-heavy-lift hybrid aircraft which derive more than half of their lift by helium buoyancy and the balance via aerodynamic lift produced by aerodynamic shaping. Such vehicles are not "payload specific"...

, unsuccessfully promoted for many years by the now financially troubled British company Advanced Technology Group
Advanced Technology Group
The Advanced Technology Group was a corporate research laboratory at Apple Computer from 1986 to 1997. ATG was started by Larry Tesler in October 1986 to study long term research into future technologies that were beyond the time frame or organizational scope of any individual product group. Over...

. Although Lockheed Martin is developing a design for the DARPA WALRUS HULA
Walrus HULA
The Walrus HULA was a proposed Hybrid Ultra Large Aircraft. The goal was to create an airship capable of traveling up to 12,000 nautical miles in range, while carrying 500-1000 tons of cargo...

 project, it claimed that the P-791 is unrelated to WALRUS. Nonetheless, the design represents an approach that may well be applicable to WALRUS. Some believe that Lockheed Martin had used the secret P-791 program as a way to get a head start on the other WALRUS competitor, US Aeros Airships.

Hybrid airship

A hybrid airship
Hybrid airship
"A hybrid airship is an aircraft that combines characteristics of heavier-than-air technology, fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter, and lighter-than-air , aerostat technology."[1]Examples include helicopter/airship hybrids intended for heavy lift applications and dynamic lift airships intended for...

 is a general term for an aircraft that combines characteristics of heavier-than-air (airplane or helicopter) and lighter-than-air technology. Examples include helicopter/airship hybrids intended for heavy lift applications and dynamic lift airships intended for long-range cruising. It should be noted that most airships, when fully loaded with cargo and fuel, are usually ballasted to be heavier than air, and thus must use their propulsion system and shape to create aerodynamic lift, necessary to stay aloft. All airships can be operated to be slightly heavier than air at periods during flight (descent
Descent (aircraft)
A descent during air travel is any portion where an aircraft decreases altitude, and is the opposite of an ascent or climb. Descents are an essential component of an approach to landing...

). However, the term "hybrid airship" refers to craft that obtain a significant portion of their lift from aerodynamic lift or other kinetic
Kinetic energy
The kinetic energy of an object is the energy which it possesses due to its motion.It is defined as the work needed to accelerate a body of a given mass from rest to its stated velocity. Having gained this energy during its acceleration, the body maintains this kinetic energy unless its speed changes...

 means.

For example, the Aeroscraft
Aeroscraft
The Aeroscraft model ML866 is a planned 60-ton hybrid airship, to be built by the Worldwide Aeros Corporation.A scaled-down prototype was made in 2008. A 2006 article in POPSCI reported Worldwide Aeros Corporation was developing a prototype to be completed by 2010. It uses technology from the...

 is a buoyancy assisted air vehicle that generates lift through a combination of aerodynamics, thrust vectoring and gas buoyancy generation and management, and for much of the time will fly heavier than air. Aeroscraft is Worldwide Aeros Corporation's
Worldwide Aeros Corp
Worldwide Aeros Corp is an aircraft manufacturing company, specialised in the manufacturing of Hybrid airships. It is based in Montebello, California....

 continuation of DARPA's now cancelled Walrus HULA
Walrus HULA
The Walrus HULA was a proposed Hybrid Ultra Large Aircraft. The goal was to create an airship capable of traveling up to 12,000 nautical miles in range, while carrying 500-1000 tons of cargo...

(Hybrid Ultra Large Aircraft) project.

Practical comparison with heavier-than-air aircraft

The advantage of airships over airplanes is that static lift
Buoyancy
In physics, buoyancy is a force exerted by a fluid that opposes an object's weight. In a column of fluid, pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the overlying fluid. Thus a column of fluid, or an object submerged in the fluid, experiences greater pressure at the bottom of the...

 sufficient for flight is generated by the lifting gas and requires no engine power. This was an immense advantage before the middle of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and remained an advantage for long distance, or long duration operations until World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Modern concepts for high altitude airships include photovoltaic cells
Solar cell
A solar cell is a solid state electrical device that converts the energy of light directly into electricity by the photovoltaic effect....

 to reduce the need to land to refuel, thus they can remain in the air until consumables expire.

The disadvantages are that an airship has a very large reference area and comparatively large drag coefficient
Drag coefficient
In fluid dynamics, the drag coefficient is a dimensionless quantity that is used to quantify the drag or resistance of an object in a fluid environment such as air or water. It is used in the drag equation, where a lower drag coefficient indicates the object will have less aerodynamic or...

, thus a larger drag force compared to that of airplanes and even helicopters. Given the large frontal area and wetted surface of an airship, a practical limit is reached around 80 –. Thus airships are used where speed is not critical.

The gross lift capability of an airship is equal to the buoyant force minus the weight of the airship. This assumes standard air temperature and pressure conditions. Corrections are usually made for water vapor and impurity of lifting gas, as well as percentage of inflation of the gas cells at liftoff. Based on specific lift (pounds of lift per thousand cubic feet of lifting gas), the greatest static lift is provided by hydrogen (71 lbs. lift/1000 cubic feet of gas) with helium (66 lbs. lift/1000 cubic feet of gas) a close second. At 39 lbs./1000 cubic feet, steam is a distant third. Other gases, such as methane, carbon monoxide, ammonia and natural gas have even less lifting capacity and are flammable, toxic, corrosive, or all three. Operational considerations such as whether the lift gas can be economically vented and produced in flight for control of buoyancy (as with hydrogen) or even produced as a byproduct of propulsion (as with steam) affect the practical choice of lift gas in airship designs.

Considering the Hindenburg disaster, one may question why such a flammable gas as hydrogen was used in the first place, when it is only marginally better than helium as a lifting gas. The answer is that hydrogen can be produced easily and economically through the electrolysis of water or by chemical reactions, whereas helium is scarce and expensive, occurring only in trace amounts in a few natural gas deposits.

In addition to static lift, an airship can obtain a certain amount of dynamic lift from its engines. Dynamic lift in past airships has been about 10% of the static lift. Dynamic lift allows an airship to "take off heavy" from a runway similar to fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. However, this requires additional weight in engines, fuel and landing gear, negating some of the static lift capacity.

The altitude at which an airship can fly largely depends on how much lifting gas it can lose due to expansion before stasis
Mechanical equilibrium
A standard definition of static equilibrium is:This is a strict definition, and often the term "static equilibrium" is used in a more relaxed manner interchangeably with "mechanical equilibrium", as defined next....

 is reached. The ultimate altitude record for a rigid airship was set in 1917 by the L-55 under the command of Hans-Kurt Flemming when he forced the airship to 24000 ft (7,315.2 m) attempting to cross France after the "Silent Raid" on London. The L-55 lost lift as the descent to lower altitudes over Germany compressed the gas left in the cells, and thus the weight of air displaced. L-55 crashed due to loss of lift. While such waste of gas was necessary for the survival of airships in the later years of WW I, it was impractical for commercial operations, or operations of helium-filled military airships. The highest flight made by a hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 filled passenger airship was 5500 ft (1,676.4 m) on the Graf Zeppelin's around the world flight. The practical limit for rigid airships was about 3000 feet (914.4 m), and for pressure airships around 8000 ft (2,438.4 m).

Modern airships use dynamic helium volume. At sea level altitude, helium only takes up a small part of the hull, while the rest is filled with air. As the airship ascends, the helium inflates with reduced outer pressure, and air is pushed out and released from the downward valve. This allows an airship to reach any altitude with balanced inner and outer pressure if the buoyancy is enough. Some civil aerostats could reach 100000 ft (30,480 m) without explosion due to overloaded inner pressure.

The greatest disadvantage of the airship is size, which is essential to increasing performance. As size increases, the problems of ground handling increase geometrically. As the German Navy transitioned from the "p" class Zeppelins of 1915 with a volume of over 1100000 cu ft (31,148.5 m³) to the larger "q" class of 1916, the "r" class of 1917, and finally the "w" class of 1918, at almost 2200000 cu ft (62,297.1 m³) ground handling problems reduced the number of days the Zeppelins were able to make patrol flights. This availability declined from 34% in 1915, to 24.3% in 1916 and finally 17.5% in 1918.

So long as the power-to-weight ratios of aircraft engines remained low and specific fuel consumption high, the airship had an edge for long range or duration operations. As those figures changed, the balance shifted rapidly in the airplane's favor. By mid-1917 the airship could no longer survive in a combat situation where the threat was airplanes. By the late 1930s, the airship barely had an advantage over the airplane on intercontinental over-water flights, and that advantage had vanished by the end of WW II.

This is in face-to-face tactical situation, current High Altitude Airship project is planned to survey hundreds of kilometers as their operation radius, often much farther than normal engage range of a military airplane. This provides better early warning, even farther than the Aegis system. The current Aegis system is often based on a sea vessel like Ticonderoga Class and Burke Class, which have restricted radio horizon and line of sight. For example, a radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 mounted on a vessel platform 30 m (98.4 ft) high has radio horizon at 20 km (12.4 mi) range, while a radar at 18000 m (59,055.1 ft) altitude has radio horizon at 480 km (298.3 mi) range. This is significantly important for detecting low-flying cruise missiles or fighter-bombers.

The blimp remained a viable military system only until the conventional submarine was replaced by the nuclear submarine
Nuclear submarine
A nuclear submarine is a submarine powered by a nuclear reactor . The performance advantages of nuclear submarines over "conventional" submarines are considerable: nuclear propulsion, being completely independent of air, frees the submarine from the need to surface frequently, as is necessary for...

. Today, airships are used primarily for command, control and as a communication platform; to establish and maintain reliable and secure connectivity among all forces, provide transparent data across the echelons; precisely locate friendly and enemy forces; detect targets on an extended battlefield at a minimal exposure to enemy forces; real time targeting; navigation assistance; battle management; monitor radio conversations, etc.

Safety

The most commonly used lift gas, helium
Helium
Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

, is inert so acts as a fire extinguisher. Modern airships have a natural buoyancy and special design that offers a virtually zero catastrophic failure mode. While on long-haul flights weather patterns would be flown to avoid bad weather, the hull's mass largely dampens the effect of turbulence
Turbulence
In fluid dynamics, turbulence or turbulent flow is a flow regime characterized by chaotic and stochastic property changes. This includes low momentum diffusion, high momentum convection, and rapid variation of pressure and velocity in space and time...

, just as a large tanker rides through rough seas. An airship is usually a poor lightning target, as it is constructed mainly from composite materials. If it is struck, built-in protection devices minimise the risk to the vehicle and its cargo.

A series of structural vulnerability tests were done by the UK Defence Evaluation and Research Agency DERA on a Skyship 600
Skyship 600
The Skyship 600 is a modern airship, originally designed by British company Airship Industries, and now owned and operated by Airship Management Services and Skycruise Switzerland AG.The first Skyship 600 made its maiden flight on 6 March 1984....

, an earlier airship built by the Munk team to a similar pressure-stabilised design. Several hundred high-velocity bullets were fired through the hull, and even two hours later the vehicle would have been able to return to base. The airship is virtually impervious to automatic rifle and mortar fire: ordnance passes through the envelope without causing critical helium loss. In all instances of light armament fire evaluated under both test and live conditions, the vehicle was able to complete its mission and return to base. The internal hull pressure is maintained at only 1–2% above surrounding air pressure, the vehicle is highly tolerant to physical damage or to attack by small-arms fire or missiles.

See also

  • Airship hangar
    Airship hangar
    Airships are sheltered in airship hangars during construction and sometimes also for regular operation, particularly at bad weather conditions. Rigid airships always needed to be based in airship hangars because weathering was a serious risk.- History :...

  • Dirisoft
    Dirisoft
    The French research association “Réseau Dirisoft” explores the functionality of airships for transporting heavy loads. It was founded the 23rd March 2007 at the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan in Paris, with support from the Directorate for Research and Innovation MEEDAT...

  • Evolutionary Air and Space Global Laser Engagement
    Evolutionary Air and Space Global Laser Engagement
    The Evolutionary Air and space Global Laser Engagement is a missile defence plan being developed by the United States Air Force....

  • High-altitude platform
  • Hyperion airship
    Hyperion airship
    The Hyperion is a fictional 1907 French airship, featured in the 1974 Walt Disney film “The Island at the Top of the World.” Although the airship appears for only a relatively small portion of the overall length of the film, it plays a prominent role, both as a memorable set piece and in the...

    , fictional airship type.
  • List of airship accidents
  • List of Zeppelins
  • Metaplane
  • Mystery airship
    Mystery airship
    Mystery airships or phantom airships are a class of unidentified flying objects best known from a series of newspaper reports originating in the western United States and spreading east during 1896 and 1897. According to researcher Jerome Clark, airship reports were made worldwide, early as the...

  • Stratellite
    Stratellite
    Stratellite is a brand name trademark of Sanswire for a future emissions-free, high-altitude stratospheric airship that provides a stationary communications platform for various types of wireless signals usually carried by communications towers or satellites...

  • SVAM CA-80

External links

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