Henri Giffard, French engineer

Henri Giffard, French engineer

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Henri Giffard (1825-1882), French engineer, historical artwork. Giffard was the inventor of the first navigable, passenger-carrying airship in 1852. The steam-powered, lighter than air craft was 43 metres long and was called a dirigible. The dirigible was filled with hydrogen and flew at about 8 kilometres per hour (5 mph). It was not, however, until the invention of the gasoline-powered engine in 1896 that practical airships of a similar design could be built. Giffard also invented the injector, which fed water into a steam-engine boiler to prevent it running out of steam when not in motion.

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