Friday, October 16, 2009

First Use of Helium in Airships

This is the U.S. Navy's lighter-than-air dirigible C-7, which in 1921, became the first airship in the world to use helium (as opposed to the highly flammable hydrogen.)  The flight took off from the air station side of Naval Operating Base Hampton Roads. The aviators, Lieutenant Commander R.F. Wood, Lieutenant Commander Zachary Landsdowne, and Lieutenant C.E. Bousch, took the dirigible on two flights. The first lasted only 15 minutes, but the second one lasted several hours as aviators took their aircraft over downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth.

C-7's helium came from gas fields in Oklahoma and Texas and production at the time was reserved exclusively for the military. C-7's flight was severing as a test bed for using helium in airships as the Army and Navy prepared to receive the giant airship Roma from the Italians.

The New York Times accounces to the world the success of C-7.

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