After the launching of the first hot-air balloon in 1783, inventors turned their sights toward ways to control lighter-than-air aircraft. If these craft were going to go anywhere, you had to be able to steer them.
On September 24, 1852, 51 years before the Wright brothers took to the air, Jules Henri Giffard, a French engineer, launched the first full-sized airship, or dirigible (from the French diriger, to direct or steer). It was a 143 foot long cigar-shaped baggie with a three-bladed propeller powered by a steam engine. Zipping along at 6 miles per hour, Giffard traveled 17 miles from Paris to Elancourt. Thanks to headwinds, steering was cumbersome and Giffard was only able to turn in long, slow circles. But he proved that the big balloon could be managed and maneuvered.
Giffard received a patent for his mechanism in 1858. In 1863, he was appointed a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur.
And She Never Left the Ground
Annie Cohen Kopchovsky was born in what is now Latvia in 1870. She grew up to be an enterprising and free-thinking young woman who refashioned herself as the globetrotting Annie Londonderry after making a deal with the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company to adopt its name and promote their product during her planned circumnavigation of the globe on a bicycle. And when she arrived in Boston on September 24, 1895, completing her journey, she became the first woman ever to accomplish such an undertaking.
Fifteen months earlier, she had pedaled out of Boston, carrying one change of clothes and a pearl-handed revolver. She traveled west to Chicago, then reversed course and returned to New York City from where she sailed to France — Le Havre, Paris Marseille. She crossed the Mediterranean to Egypt, then traveled on to Colombo, Singapore and back to the United States, arriving in San Francisco in March 1895. Basking in her notoriety, she cycled to Los Angeles, El Paso and Denver then back to Boston, entertaining audiences along the way with tales of her adventures.
Although some critics suggested she traveled with a bicycle more often than on one, the New York World called her feat “the most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman.
Inspirational Quote for 9/24/16