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17 Facts about Airships: history, design, unique features

Airship in the air

Airships used to be the go-to mode of aerial transport, but they have since been replaced by airplanes. Though they were a step up when compared to other transportation options at the time, the lack of advancements in technology during that era prevented them from becoming more reliable and safe. Airships seem to be regaining popularity in the modern world as more people discover their unique features.

  1. Airships used more than a century ago, during the First World War, could rise to heights of 6-8 kilometers.
  2. In 1852, the first airship to ever be constructed by Henry Giffard of France was equipped with a steam engine, ushering in a new era of aerial travel.
  3. Zeppelins are the most renowned airships that were named after their inventor Ferdinand von Zeppelin.
  4. Weather permitting, an airship can theoretically fly for weeks without landing, as it does not need to refuel as often as an airplane.
  5. Airships that were used a hundred years ago could travel up to 12-15 thousand kilometers without making a stop. Modern planes, however, cannot cover such distances.
  6. The largest airships had an interior space exceeding 200,000 cubic meters.
  7. While the classic airship had a cigar-like design, there were also some that had an almost spherical look and even discs.
  8. The largest airship ever built was the Hindenburg, which was 245 meters (803 feet) long and 41 meters (135 feet) high.
  9. Large airships are not commonplace nowadays because of the expense associated with them. A hangar for an aircraft of the same size would be only a fraction of the cost to maintain a specialized hangar for airships, which can be 100 times more expensive.
  10. Compared to airplanes, airships have a much more efficient weight-to-weight ratio and can carry up to 40% of their mass in the payload.
  11. As the frame of airships is not strong enough for it to land on the ground, these machines need a mooring mast and a team of personnel available to help with the landing. Unlike many balloons, they cannot be landed easily on the ground.
  12. The initial airship never got off the ground as it needed 80 people to manually turn its propellers. It did not have an engine to power it.
  13. At its peak, the largest airships of the last century had a weight of over 200 tons.
  14. Helium is the gas of choice for modern airships for its lightness & safety. In the past, however, hydrogen was used due to lack of cost-effective ways to produce helium on a large scale.
  15. In the past, one of the Zeppelins went on a journey around the globe.
  16. The design of an airship is typically tailored to its intended use; modern airships may feature wings and engines similar to those found on traditional airplanes but with the added benefit of being able to hover in place when needed.
  17. Today, there are only a handful of operational airships around the world, mostly operated by private charter companies for sightseeing tours over cities or other landmarks like natural beauty spots from low altitudes above ground level.


  1. ThoughtCo – History of Airships
  2. Britannica – Airship
Bogdan Kravets

Bogdan Kravets

Bogdan Kravets is the founder of FactsID. He has over 7 years of experience in collecting facts, SEO, and Digital Marketing. In his spare time, he studies psychology and sociology.

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