Balloons and Airships, A Tale Of Lighter Than Air Aviation

A fascinating and delightful review of the history of lighter than air aviation from its first days through to today. This well written text is supported by images throughout the body of the book, mostly in full colour on gloss paper . – Very Highly Recommended.

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NAME: Balloons and Airships, A Tale Of Lighter Than Air Aviation
FILE: R3043
AUTHOR: Antony Burton
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: Hard back
PRICE: £25.00                                                                
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Aviation pioneers, early designs, technology, French designers, British 
designers, German designers, American designers, experimentation, originality, 
diversity, airships, aircraft engines, gas, hot air, ballast, control systems

ISBN: 1-52671-949-5

IMAGE: B3043.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/stc3zgc
PAGES: 208
LINKS: 
DESCRIPTION: A fascinating and delightful review of the history of lighter than air 
aviation from its first days through to today. This well written text is supported by 
images throughout the body of the book, mostly in full colour on gloss paper . – 
Very Highly Recommended.

Man has long dreamed of flying. The first drawings and accounts are of unpowered or 
man-powered heaver than air machines that owed much to the shape of birds and a 
misunderstanding of how the bird uses its wings to provide powered and gliding flight. 
By the Seventeenth Century the concept of using gas to lift a device into the air started 
to gather supporters and those involved in the development of steam engines saw the 
possibilities of using steam power to turn gliders into machines that did not depend 
entirely on high ground to launch into flight. In France the Mongolfier brothers 
demonstrated the use of hot air to lift a simple basket into the air. The aircraft was 
limited in range by the fuel to create the fire that produced hot air captured in a 
balloon above it, and it was at the mercy of the wind. The Charles brothers 
demonstrated a balloon filled with hydrogen gas. This was a considerable advance 
over the Mongolfier hot air balloon but was still unable to control its course.

Human imagination was still racing ahead of viable technology. British frigate Capt 
Cockrane could be considered the father of British naval aviation. In between making 
himself hated and feared by the French, Napoleon naming him The Sea Wolf, 
Cockrane was writing papers suggesting new weapons. These included the use of a 
gas balloon to be drifted into French ports on the wind, carrying poison gas. By the 
American Civil War, both sides were making use of captive hydrogen balloons as 
observation platforms to direct artillery fire. Union troops had wagons equipped to 
produce gas and fill balloons close to the fighting, allowing deflated balloons to be 
moved around the battlefields to be rapidly inflated and launched as needed.

The gas balloon had a number of disadvantages and the Royal Navy, having borrowed 
Army balloons in South Africa to direct guns landed from warships, decided to 
experiment with man-carrying kits because the hydrogen balloon was considered 
unsuitable for deployment from ships. The Royal Navy had to wait until 1970 when 
the first flight of a hot air balloon launched from the carrier HMS Ark Royal (IV), 
piloted by Lt Terry Adams of 849 Sq B Flight, took place successfully.

As more reliable combustion engines became available, the balloon could be stretched 
into an airship with the ability to change height and steer a course. Unfortunately for 
the airship engine technology continued to develop, making it practical to build 
heavier than air machines that proved safer and more versatile. That made the winged 
machines, fixed and rotary, the way to go, with the balloon and airship almost dying 
out, but they have never completely gone away and are starting to make a come back 
with some new developments proving very attractive for UAV versions that can 
remain aloft for long periods as reconnaissance and communications platforms.

The author has provided a comprehensive history of balloons and airships.