A modern airship, Zeppelin NT D-LZZF in 2010
The LZ 129 Hindenburg was the largest airship ever built and destroyed in 1937
Dirigible airships compared with related aerostats, from a turn-of-the-20th-century encyclopedia
Ballon-Poisson, a navigable balloon designed by aeronaut Ferdinand Lagleize, ca. 1850
U.S. Navy airships and balloons, 1931: in the background, ZR-3, in front of it, (l to r) J-3 or 4, K-1, ZMC-2, in front of them, "Caquot" observation balloon, and in foreground free balloons used for training
A gondola fitted with twin propellers
Francesco Lana de Terzi's Aerial Ship design of 1670
Crossing of the English Channel by Blanchard in 1785
A model of the 1852 Giffard Airship at the London Science Museum
The navigable balloon developed by Henri Dupuy de Lôme in 1872
Dyer Airship 1874 Patent Drawing Page 1
Santos-Dumont No.6 rounding the Eiffel Tower in 1901
LZ1, Count Zeppelin's first airship
An Astra-Torres airship
Italian military airship, 1908
German airship Schütte Lanz SL2 bombing Warsaw in 1914
View from a French dirigible approaching a ship in 1918
Wreckage of Zeppelin L31 or L32 shot down over England, 23 September 1916
The Bodensee 1919
The Nordstern 1920
"Norge" airship in flight 1926
Rescuers scramble across the wreckage of British R-38/USN ZR-2, 24 August 1921.
USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) during construction, 1923
USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) beside tender USS Patoka February 1931
USS Macon over Lower Manhattan, 1933
The Hindenburg catches fire, 6 May 1937
Control car (gondola) of the Goodyear ZNPK (K-28) later operated by Goodyear as Puritan VI
A view of six helium-filled blimps being stored in one of the two massive hangars located at NAS Santa Ana, during World War II
K-class blimps of USN Blimp Squadron ZP-14 conducted antisubmarine warfare operations at the Strait of Gibraltar in 1944–45.
Interior view of Carlsen Field's LTA hangar built by African American Seabees of the 80th Naval Construction in 1943
One of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company's blimp fleet, being replaced by Zeppelin NT semirigids
The Spirit of Dubai approaches its motorized mooring mast
A-N400 (A-NSE company)
A Zeppelin NT airship
Yokoso! Japan passenger airship at the Malmi Airport in Helsinki, Finland
Thermal airship (manufacturer GEFA-FLUG/Germany)
The largest airship, the LZ 129 Hindenburg at 245 meters length and 41 meters diameter, dwarfs the size of the largest historic and modern passenger and cargo aeroplanes.
Artist's rendering of a NASA manned floating outpost in the atmosphere of Venus
Mlle Louise pedal Airship by Stephane Rousson
Zeppy 3 by Stephane Rousson
Zeppy One

Type of aerostat or lighter-than-air aircraft that can navigate through the air under its own power.

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Rigid airship

Construction of USS Shenandoah (ZR-1), 1923, showing the framework of a rigid airship.
LZ 1, the first successful rigid airship
The extended Spiess airship in 1913
The British R34 in Long Island during the first ever return crossing of the Atlantic in July 1919
USS Akron (ZRS-4) passes over Lower Manhattan

A rigid airship is a type of airship (or dirigible) in which the envelope is supported by an internal framework rather than by being kept in shape by the pressure of the lifting gas within the envelope, as in blimps (also called pressure airships) and semi-rigid airships.


Vehicle or machine that is able to fly by gaining support from the air.

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is the most produced aircraft in history.
The Mil Mi-8 is the most-produced helicopter in history.
Hot air balloons
Airship USS Akron over Manhattan in the 1930s
An Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger airliner
Aircraft parked on the ground in Afghanistan
An autogyro
X-24B lifting body
Sailplane (Rolladen-Schneider LS4)
A turboprop-engined DeHavilland Twin Otter adapted as a floatplane
Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor
Airframe diagram for an AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter
The Boeing 777-200LR is one of the longest-range airliners, capable of flights of more than halfway around the world.
The empennage of a Boeing 747-200
Boeing B-17E in flight
Agusta A109 helicopter of the Swiss air rescue service
A model aircraft, weighing six grams

Common examples of aircraft include airplanes, helicopters, airships (including blimps), gliders, paramotors, and hot air balloons.

USS Akron

Akron approaching the mooring mast at NAS Sunnyvale
Akron under construction in the Goodyear Airdock at Akron, Ohio in November 1930. Note the three-dimensional, deep rings.
Sample of the duralumin from which the frame of USS Akron was built
The maiden voyage of Akron on 2 November 1931, showing her four starboard propellers. The engines' water reclaiming devices appear as white strips above each propeller. The emergency rear control cabin is visible in the lower fin.
F9C Sparrowhawk in Akrons hangar. This aircraft was one of four lost with USS Macon (ZRS-5) on 12 February 1935.
Cover carried on the May 1932 "Coast to Coast" flight and later autographed by the only three survivors of the April 1933 crash of USS Akron
Still pictures from 11 May 1932 incident: the two pictures on the left and the picture at far right are of Seaman Cowart; the picture second from right shows Henton and Edsall before their fatal fall
Akron over Lower Manhattan
Pilot officers of USS Akron Air Group, 1933 (l to r): Lt(JG) Robert W. Lawson, Lt Harold B. Miller, Lt Frederick M. Trapnell, Lt Howard L. Young, Lt(JG) Frederick N. Kivette
Franked USS Akron penalty cover with 1933 Memorial Day cachet autographed by its only three survivors, and postmarked at Lakehurst on 24 June 1933, the day Macon first arrived there
The cruiser USS Portland (CA-33) was one of several ships that searched for survivors from the Akron

USS Akron (ZRS-4) was a helium-filled rigid airship of the U.S. Navy, the lead ship of her class, which operated between September 1931 and April 1933.

Semi-rigid airship

Internal structure of semi-rigid airship
Italian explorer Umberto Nobile crossed the North Pole in his semi-rigid airship Norge in 1926.

A semi-rigid airship is an airship which has a stiff keel or truss supporting the main envelope along its length.

USS Macon (ZRS-5)

Sky hook visible on the remains of one of Macons F9C-2 biplanes (2006)
Macon under construction at the Goodyear Airdock
USS Macon over New York City in 1933
Macon moored in Hangar One at NAS Moffett Field in 1933
While on a long duration flight over the Pacific, Macon was able to locate and track the cruiser USS Houston (CA-30), which was carrying President Roosevelt on a trip from Hawaii to Washington.
Macon over Moffett Field
The pre-1941 pattern U.S. roundel emblem still faintly visible on the sunken wreckage of a Macon airplane.
Inside Macon{{'}}s aircraft hangar
Sparrowhawk scout/fighter aircraft on its exterior rigging
Inside Macon{{'}}s secondary control node
Aerial reconnaissance "spy car" observer's basket which could be lowered below clouds with a tether.

USS Macon (ZRS-5) was a rigid airship built and operated by the United States Navy for scouting and served as a "flying aircraft carrier", designed to carry biplane parasite aircraft, five single-seat Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk for scouting or two-seat Fleet N2Y-1 for training.


One of a pair of British rigid airships 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.

One of the airship hangars at Cardington
R101 under construction
Beardmore Tornado engine on display in the Science Museum in London
R101 in flight
R101 at the mooring mast at Cardington
The wreckage of R101
R101 memorial in Cardington
Unveiling of the memorial to the victims of the R101 disaster outside Allonne
A plaque in the Palace of Westminster commemorating the crash
NPL diagram of possible R101 flight path
Dish made from salvaged metal from R101, created by Thos. W. Ward Ltd 1931.

R101 was built as part of a British government initiative to develop airships to provide passenger and mail transport from Britain to the most distant parts of the British Empire, including India, Australia and Canada, since the distances were then too great for heavier-than-air aircraft.


Chemical element with the symbol He and atomic number 2.

Spectral lines of helium
Sir William Ramsay, the discoverer of terrestrial helium
The cleveite sample from which Ramsay first purified helium
Historical marker, denoting a massive helium find near Dexter, Kansas
The helium atom. Depicted are the nucleus (pink) and the electron cloud distribution (black). The nucleus (upper right) in helium-4 is in reality spherically symmetric and closely resembles the electron cloud, although for more complicated nuclei this is not always the case.
Binding energy per nucleon of common isotopes. The binding energy per particle of helium-4 is significantly larger than all nearby nuclides.
Helium discharge tube shaped like the element's atomic symbol
Liquefied helium. This helium is not only liquid, but has been cooled to the point of superfluidity. The drop of liquid at the bottom of the glass represents helium spontaneously escaping from the container over the side, to empty out of the container. The energy to drive this process is supplied by the potential energy of the falling helium.
Unlike ordinary liquids, helium II will creep along surfaces in order to reach an equal level; after a short while, the levels in the two containers will equalize. The Rollin film also covers the interior of the larger container; if it were not sealed, the helium II would creep out and escape.
Structure of the helium hydride ion, HHe+
Structure of the suspected fluoroheliate anion, OHeF−
The largest single use of liquid helium is to cool the superconducting magnets in modern MRI scanners.
A dual chamber helium leak detection machine
Because of its low density and incombustibility, helium is the gas of choice to fill airships such as the Goodyear blimp.

A well-known but minor use is as a lifting gas in balloons and airships.


Lighter-than-air aircraft that gains its lift through the use of a buoyant gas.

A modern aerostat used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS)
A free-flying hot air balloon
The Goodyear blimps are non-rigid airships

Aerostats include unpowered balloons and powered airships.


Science or art involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of air flight–capable machines, and the techniques of operating aircraft and rockets within the atmosphere.

Space Shuttle Atlantis on a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
Designs for flying machines by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1490
Francesco Lana de Terzi's flying boat concept c.1670
Montgolfier brothers flight, 1784
The Eurofighter Typhoon.
Antonov An-225 Mriya, the largest aeroplane ever built.

The term "aviation" is sometimes used interchangeably with aeronautics, although "aeronautics" includes lighter-than-air craft such as airships, and includes ballistic vehicles while "aviation" technically does not.

Ferdinand von Zeppelin

German general and later inventor of the Zeppelin rigid airships, which soon became synonymous with airships and dominated long-distance flight until the 1930s.

Von Zeppelin in 1917
Isabella Gräfin von Zeppelin
Ferdinand von Zeppelin in Virginia, June 1863
In uniform as adjutant to Charles I of Württemberg, 1865
Zeppelin in 1900
First flight of the LZ 1
Bust of Zeppelin in the Aeronauticum at Nordholz

Zeppelin's ideas for large airships were first expressed in a diary entry dated 25 March 1874.