Fly My Pretty!
September 24, 2008 12:48 PM   Subscribe

On this day in 1852, Jules Henri Giffard made the first powered and controlled flight in a steam powered airship. His 27km journey from Paris to Trappes predated the Wright Brothers' 12-second flight by over 50 years.

Although their low speed and a few high profile catastrophes severely diminished the popularity of dirigibles, they remain, for many, an emblem of scientific endeavour at its romantic, adventurous best. Giffard himself began to go blind in his fifties, and committed suicide in 1882.
posted by RokkitNite (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
that's so weird. the wright brothers wikipedia page says that they're credited with making the world's first powered and sustained heavier than air flight. obviously "heavier than air" is the distinction, there. but what's weird is that those words were never required of me when I was taking tests in school. I was always free to simply write "the wright brothers were the first people to fly" on a test and get the answer correct.

stupid public school education.
posted by shmegegge at 12:57 PM on September 24, 2008


Yeah sort of depends on what you qualify as flight

Even considering only the non-lighter-than-air-craft, i think there have been more than one post on the blue about folks who made flights before the Wright brothers, but the flights were either not as long, less controlled, or some other variant thereof
posted by poppo at 1:39 PM on September 24, 2008


I remember reading, as a kid in the 70's, that nuclear fusion would be producing lots of excess helium and that the future of air travel might be huge helium blimps. I'm still waiting.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:52 PM on September 24, 2008


Similarly, I've read many times that Charles Lindbergh was the first to fly across the Atlantic. Not true. He was the first to fly across the Atlantic solo. The first flight across the Atlantic happened eight years before.
posted by Xoc at 3:23 PM on September 24, 2008


The first to fly across the Atlantic solo non-stop.
posted by DU at 4:22 PM on September 24, 2008


First human to fly across the Atlantic solo non-stop.
posted by DU at 4:34 PM on September 24, 2008


The Brother's Montgolfier! (Also).
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:45 PM on September 24, 2008


And radio was invented in 1850 by seven people stranded on an island using only coconuts and bamboo.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 7:41 PM on September 24, 2008


I see your coke-burning, steam-powered, propeller-driven dirigible and raise you a nuclear steam turbine-powered, propeller-driven dirigible. Cutaway views of the +1000 foot long concept here and here from the March 1956 Mechanix Illustrated article, Why Don’t We Build An Atoms-For-Peace Dirigible?
posted by cenoxo at 8:19 PM on September 24, 2008


First human to fly across the Atlantic solo non-stop in an airplane.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:43 PM on September 24, 2008


Wasn't gravity lower in 1852?
posted by Vindaloo at 7:07 AM on September 25, 2008


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