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Meusnier 1784 airship
In 1784, less than a year after the first balloon flights, Jean Baptiste Marie Charles Meusnier de la Place presented a plan for a military dirigible, driven by men turning a hand crank to operate a propeller. It would have been the world’s first airship, but it was never built.
In 2002 the BBC series “Building the Impossible” set out to recreate Meusnier’s design to find out whether it would have worked. Cameron Balloons constructed the replica which was filled with helium for safety, instead of the flammable hydrogen proposed by Meusnier. A speed of about three miles per hour was achieved, although the steering sail was too small and steering was difficult.
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