An airship or dirigible is a lighter-than-air craft that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust.

Airships were the first aircraft to enable controlled, powered flight, and were widely used before the 1940s but their use decreased over time as their capabilities were surpassed by those of airplanes. Their decline was accelerated by a series of high-profile accidents: the crash of the British airship R101 on 5 October 1930, the storm-related crash of the American airship USS Akron on April 4, 1933 and the burning of the hydrogen-filled German Zeppelin Hindenburg on 6 Mai 1937.

In the 21st century, airships have been used in advertising, tourism, camera platforms for sporting events, geological surveys, and aerial observation, applications where the ability to hover in one place for an extended period outweighs the need for speed and maneuverability.

Airship in The Two GeorgesEdit

Airships were the preferred method of long-distance travel in the British Empire, which included the North American Union, in the late 20th Century. Passengers traveled in luxury and comfort aboard the massive liners. Non-flammable Coronium had replaced the temperamental hydrogen as the lifting agent, making the vehicles much safer.[1]

Aeroplanes, while faster, were far less comfortable, and people in general felt that arriving a bit earlier was not worth the sacrifice. There was no demand for commercial aeroplane lines and none developed, aeroplanes being used mainly for military purposes to the extent that it was unusual to see one in peacetime.[2]


  1. The Two Georges, Chapter i.
  2. Ibid., pgs. 6-7.