Tag Archives: Tissandier Electric Airship

8 October 1883

Tissandier
Gaston Tissandier (left) and Albert Tissandier (Fine Art America)

8 October 1883: The first airship powered by an electric motor was flown by brothers Albert Tissandier (1839–1906) and Gaston Tissandier (1843–1899) at at Auteuil, a suburb of Paris, France.

The brothers were experienced aeronauts, having designed and built a number of balloons.

This engraving by E.A. Tilly depicts Albert Tissandier (left) and Gaston Tissandier (right) in the gondola of their airship. A an unidentified third man is above. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)
This engraving by E.A. Tilly depicts Albert Tissandier (left) and Gaston Tissandier (right) in the gondola of their airship. An unidentified third man is above. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

The Tissandier brothers’ dirigible was the first to be powered by electricity. A 1.5 horsepower Siemens electric motor, turning 180 r.p.m., drove a two-bladed propeller through a reduction gear, producing 26 pounds of thrust (116 newtons). 24 bichromate of potash (potassium bichromate) cells provided electricity for the motor, which propelled the airship at 3 miles per hour (4.8 kilometers per hour).

The airship was 92 feet (28 meters) long with a maximum diameter of 30 feet (9 meters). Its gas capacity was approximately 37,500 cubic feet (1,062 cubic meters).

This engraving by E.A. Tilly depicts the Tissandier electric airship departing Auteuil, Paris, 8 October 1883. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)
This engraving by E.A. Tilly depicts the Tissandier electric airship departing Auteuil, Paris, 8 October 1883. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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