The invention of hot air balloons started the ball rolling for man to try and fly. Hot air balloons could only carry a few people and not much luggage at all so man continued working on inventing flying machines. The inventors wanted to find a solution to enable more than a few people to fly in the air at any one time and they came up with the BLIMP!


Blimps were invented around the end of the 19th century. The first airship built and successfully navigated took place in France in 1884.

Two Frenchmen sat in the gondola and had complete control of the flying. It was propelled by a 9 HP electrically-driven airs crew and they managed to fly this machine at 15 miles an hour. This was quite fast for those days.

In 1895, the first rigid airship was built by a German inventor. (His design led to the successful development of the Zeppelin – a rigid airship built by Count Zeppelin.) The German development of the Blimps led to 20 of them being built and used during World War I.

It was Germany's successful use of the Zeppelin for military reconnaissance missions that encouraged the British Royal Navy to create their own airships. The British manufactured several small non-rigid airships that were used to detect the German submarines.

No one knows just where the name Blimp comes from, but it may have been due to these British airships being called “Class B limp or non-rigid” flying machines.

The Blimps, first used as scouting tools by various military, were in fact used something like the Drone is used today; launched into the air to check out the layout of the ground.

To get them to float in the air, Blimps use the same concept of hot air and large fans to fill an elongated egg shape balloon.

The basket is attached to the balloon directly underneath the inflated balloon. This basket is called a gondola and is in fact a row of seats. These days, there is just one wheel at the front of the gondola and inside is the dashboard with the controls.

Although the Blimps did not really take off as a popular transporting vehicle, man saw the incredible possibility to use a huge balloon floating in the air as a way of advertising things that people could see for miles around.

Once the need for that advertising is over, the balloons could be deflated for storage or transportation and then inflated cheaply when service is needed again.

The most well-known of these advertising Blimps was the Goodyear Blimp. (Yes, advertising for the Goodyear Tire Company.) This most famous Blimp was floated and seen at sporting games and events around the world.

There’s a fleet of Goodyear Blimps (also called airships or dirigibles operated by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company) used mainly for advertising purposes and capturing aerial views of live sporting events for television.

These modern Blimps have a speed of 50 mph and are about 192 feet long. You can ride in a Goodyear Blimp by invitation only; these Blimps are not for the general public.


Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin designed and built an airship in the 20th century. This airship he called the Zeppelin and it looked very like the Blimp.

Although the Zeppelins appear to look a lot like Blimps, there are two key points where they differ. Zeppelins have a metal skeleton with a rigid covering, and they are filled with hydrogen. Because of these two different elements, the Zeppelins could be built much larger and were able to fly much longer distances than any Blimp!

During World War I, they were introduced as the first flying machine to practice bombing runs. A few decades later, Zeppelins were used as the first commercial airline service. The longest flights were for passengers flown from Germany to America.

Unfortunately, the Zeppelin industry was ended after a big disaster took place. The big balloon burst into flames and came crashing down to the ground and killed 36 people. This was called the Hindenburg disaster.