Timeline of Major Events in Airship History
June 4, 1783 – The Montgolfier brothers successfully demonstrate a hot air balloon flight in Versailles France that carried a sheep, a duck, and a rooster to an estimated height of over 5,000 feet.
September 24, 1852 – Henri Giffard flew the first dirigible (steerable balloon) using a steam injector engine of his invention. The flight took him from Paris to Trappers France.
June 1, 1863 – Dr. Solomon Andrews flew his “Aereon” over Perth Amboy, New Jersey in the United States using what he called gravitation to propel and steer the airship. The airship’s surface angle combined with increasing or decreasing its buoyancy allowed air to pass over the surface and propel the airship in the direction that was desired, somewhat like a sailboat is propelled.
July 2, 1900 – Count Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin of Germany flies his first rigid airship, the LZ 1, over Lake Constance near Friedrichshafen in Germany.
October 19, 1901 – Alberto Santos Dumont of Brazil won the Deutsch de la Meurthe Prize from flying his airship # 6 from Parc Saint Cloud in Paris to the Eiffel tower and back in roughly 30 minutes.
November 16, 1909 – DELAG (Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-Aktiengesellschaft or German Airship Travel Corporation) is founded and becomes the world’s first airline service. The “Deutchland” zeppelin began commercial flights on June 19th, 1910. Prior to the outbreak of World War I DELAG managed to carry 34,028 passengers on 1,588 commercial flights over 172,535 kilometers in 3,176 hours of flight.
August 24, 1914 – As the result of a zeppelin raid during World War I the port city of Antwerp in Belgium became the first city to be bombed from the air.
August 20, 1919 – The LZ 120 Bodensee took its maiden flight and was the first active passenger zeppelin built by the Zeppelin Airship Company following World War I.
May 12, 1926 – The Italian semi-rigid airship “Norge” became the first aircraft to reach the North Pole.
September 18, 1928 – The LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin made its first flight.
August 8, 1929 to August 29, 1929 – The Graf Zeppelin circumnavigated the Earth with Dr. Hugo Eckener in command.
October 19, 1929 – First flight of the British zeppelin the R101.
December 16, 1929 – First flight of the British rigid airship the R100.
May 18, 1930 – The Graf Zeppelin flew from Europe to Recife Brazil to establish the world’s first trans-Atlantic air passenger service which began regular flights in the following year.
September 23, 1931 – First flight of the United States’ flying aircraft carrier the rigid airship Akron.
April 21, 1933 – First flight of the United States’ flying aircraft carrier the rigid airship Macon.
March 4, 1936 – The Hindenburg Zeppelin takes its first test flight. Originally designed for use with Helium, the Hindenburg could initially sleep 50 passengers, but this was raised to 72 for the 1937 flying season since Hydrogen was being used.
May 6, 1937 – The Hindenburg explodes over its landing field in Lakehurst New Jersey killing 35 of the 97 people on board and one member of the ground crew.
March 1940 – Hermann Goering orders the dismantling of the last remaining zeppelins, the Graf Zeppelins LZ 127 and LZ 130 whose scrap will be used for the German war effort.
December 7, 1941 – The United States is attacked by Japan and thus enters World War II. During the war hundreds of blimps were used successfully for anti-submarine operations. Not a single allied ship was lost that was being watched over by navy blimps.
September 18, 1997 – The Zeppelin Company revives its airship construction operations and flies its first Zeppelin NT (new technology) semi-rigid airship on its first flight.