An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or lighter-than-air aircraft which can navigate through the air under its own power.Aerostats gain their lift from large gas bags filled with a lifting gas that is less dense than the surrounding air.
Early balloons were not truly navigable. Attempts to improve maneuverability included elongating the balloon's shape and using a powered screw to push it through the air.
Thus the airship (also called a dirigible), a lighter-than-air craft with propulsion and steering systems was born. Credit for the construction of the first navigable full-sized airship goes to French engineer, Henri Giffard, who, in 1852, attached a small, steam-powered engine to a huge propeller and chugged through the air for seventeen miles at a top speed of five miles per hour.
However, it was not until the invention of the gasoline-powered engine in 1896 that practical airships could be built.In 1898, the Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont was the first to construct and fly a gasoline-powered airship.
Arriving in Paris in 1897, Alberto Santos-Dumont first made a number of flights with free balloons and also purchased a motorized tricycle. He thought of combining the De Dion engine that powered his tricycle with a balloon, which resulted in 14 small airships that were all all gasoline-powered. His No. 1 airship first flew on September 18, 1898.