Imagine you could lift from the floor just attaching yourself to some balloons, even that this sounds fantastic, something like this was in fashion during the first third of the 20th century, let me tell you about Zeppelins. Most of you could remember these flying crafts with the dark aura of the Great War or the Hindenburg accident (1939), but their history goes further than that.
As their name tell, they were invented by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, a German aristocrat that fought in the American Civil War and saw interest in the balloons they used for reconnaissance and mail delivery. After the war, once he returned to Europe, Zeppelin kept studying balloons and the possibility to make them dirigible, since Zeppelin didn’t have any knowledge about mathematics or physics it was thanks to his friend, Carlos Albán, engineer and Colombian consul in Hamburg that the invention of the Zeppelin was possible, and so it was that its first flight occurred in Lake Constance, the LZ 1 flew 20 minutes and then crash-landed but was repaired and kept flying fine for two more tests. Finally, it was with its fifth version, the LZ5 when Zeppelin saw success up to 1914 more than 37.000 people were transported by rigid aircraft with no incident, we could affirm that it was the Zeppelin, not the airplane that began the revolution of air transportation.
About the most technical hand, we can consider the Zeppelin rigid airship as skeleton off light aluminum rings being lifted by separated balloons filled with a lighter than air gas such as hydrogen (That caused many accidents by explosions), then propelled by conventional engines attached to the structure.
On the other hand, we usually see Zeppelins represented in films about the First World War and during Nazi Germany and since it had no real value as a military craft more than the psychological part it was largely used as a common transport craft in Germany until the Third Reich focused more on planes and its fatal hit occurred with the Hindenburg disaster.
Eventually, we may consider Zeppelins as a thing from the past with no real use in our times, but something is true and its that rigid airships are quite simple and cheap and so can be used (and are) for publicity purposes and it also exists ideas for recovering them for the air transport industry, so don’t get mad if someday you see a Zeppelin over your heads.