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Airship

von rigid ferdinand hydrogen

Airship, or dirigible, lighter-than-air, self-propelled balloon whose buoyancy is provided by hydrogen or helium. The internal gas pressure causes the nonrigid type of airship, or blimp, to maintain its form. The first successful airship was designed by Henri Giffard, a French engineer, in 1852. In 1900 Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin of Germany built the first rigid airship. It used hydrogen, which is flammable, as the lifting gas and had a metal-lattice frame that held its shape. The vulnerability of rigid airships in storms and a series of spectacular fires, including the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, brought an end to their use.

See also: Zeppelin, Ferdinand von.

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