Since the 1850s, engineers have been experimenting with powered lighter-than-air flight, essentially balloons with steering and propulsion. Like other early aeronautical experiments, the trial-and-error period was lengthy and hazardous. Dirigibles (with internal support structures) and blimps (powered balloons) were filled with lifting gases like hydrogen or helium, intended for many uses, from military and research to long-distance passenger service. The growth of the airship suffered numerous setbacks, including the famous Hindenburg disaster in 1937, and never developed into a major mode of travel. Despite the challenges, more than 150 years later, a number of airships are still in use and development around the world as cargo carriers, military platforms, promotional vehicles, and more. (See also 75 Years Since the Hindenburg Disaster).

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Yves Herman / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 11/21-11/27

    Winter weather in China, Europe, and the United States,  a Martian panorama, a neighborhood in flames in Manila, demonstrations in Chicago, the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City, and much more.

  • © Julian Ghahreman-Rad / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    Images From the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    The 2016 Sony World Photography Awards are now taking entries, and the organizers have been kind enough to share some of their early entries with us.

  • Ricardo Moraes / Reuters

    Red Sludge From Brazilian Dam Collapse Reaches the Atlantic

    Earlier this month, on November 5, two dams retaining tons of iron-mining waste in Brazil burst, releasing a massive flood of toxic sludge that has flowed downstream into Rio Doce, spending two weeks making its way several hundred miles downstream, finally reaching the Atlantic Ocean.

  • AP

    Today in History: November 23

    A look at various events that took place on this day, November 23, photographed over the past century. Today’s collection includes a sword-fighting Mussolini, a motorcycle-jumping Evel Knievel, William Shatner dressed as a gun-toting Santa Claus, and much more.

Join the Discussion