Airships

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

  • Ilya Naymushin / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Atomic Art, Moon Pool, Giant Iceberg

    The Royal Air Force celebrates its centennial in London, World Cup emotions run high, the Running of the Bulls begins in Spain, Tour de France riders pass through stage six, and much more.

  • Kyodo / Reuters

    Photos: Death Toll Reaches 200 in Devastating Japan Floods

    Over the weekend, sustained heavy rainfall hit parts of western and central Japan, causing flash flooding, setting off landslides, and submerging floodplains.

  • Giuseppe Bellini / Getty

    Colors Bloom Across the Great Plain of Castelluccio, Italy

    Fields of lentils and poppies carpet this Italian landscape with a colorful quilt of blossoming flowers every year.

  • Sergei Supinsky / AFP / Getty

    Images From Ivan Kupala Night

    In parts of Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and Russia, an ancient pagan rite combined with a traditional Orthodox feast to become Ivan Kupala Night, a festival celebrating the summer solstice.