This airship family is wide and complex. The invention is dated 1783 by Jean-Baptiste Meusnier de la Place and modernized in 1824 by Henri Giffard. Finally, in the late 18th century (1884), the Colonel Charles Renard from Lorraine region (France) made the first fully controllable free-flight with engine, propellers and rudder.
The different types of airship are non-rigid, semi-rigid, rigid, lenticular (spherical-shaped) and thermal (hot-air). Through centuries, man has evolved this strange elongated balloon (which could reach sizes greater than one hundred meters long) for military and scientific purposes but also transport of passengers or heavy material. The airships’ revival is in the early 1970’s with many military and civil attempts to consider air vessels as a viable alternative. The use is manifold but no technology gives full satisfaction, despite numerous research programs worldwide.
The hot-air airships are powered by a motor (alternatively pedal version). As for traditional airships, lifting gas is usually hydrogen or helium, but there is also solar powered buoyant aircraft. Championships are held regularly, bringing together some enthusiasts. There are still companies who engage in the manufacture of such devices. Smaller blimps are used for aerial photography or atmospheric survey.
Reference: Pilâtre de Rozier Organisation