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Re: [Phys-L] Dirigible Flight Question

On 11/5/2012 1:24 PM, John Clement wrote:
Blimps are dirigible.

Yes indeed they are capable of being steered, but the rigid ones are
generally called dirigibles, while the balloon type with soft bags are
usually called blimps. As far as I know the Hindenburg and others of its
design were always called dirigibles. I recall that at one time someone
defined the rigid airships as dirigibles, and I think that is a common
definition which may not have made it to the dictionaries. After all
English dictionaries generally follow common usage except for Websters which
was traditionally prescriptive.

Blimp definition: an airship that maintains its form by pressure from
contained gas

So a blimp may be dirigible, but a dirigible is not always a blimp.

Good, cute observation. Perhaps I should have used the word Zeppelin, but
that word implies a German origin for the device. Definitions are not
always precise.

John M. Clement
Houston, TX

The term dirigible is a synonym for airship - of which there have been three types - the non-rigid airship, popularly called a blimp from the British military designator B-limp;
the semi-rigid airship which also needs a pressure differential to maintain its shape; and the rigid airship illustrated by Zeppelin (LZ-1) of 1900 (tho the term Zeppelin includes numerous non-rigids too) The French rigid airship "Dixmude", The British rigid R-101, and the U.S rigid "Macon" were lost respectively in 1923, 1930, and 1935 and signaled the end of national aspirations in that direction, leaving the rigid airship field to Germany: with the "Los Angeles" for the US Navy as war reparation, the "Graf Zeppelin", and the "Hindenberg". In summary, the term dirigible (=airship) may have been mistaken in popular usage for rigid airship. In turn, it is the case, as John points out, that blimps are not necessarily dirigible. As I recall dimly, the archetype B-limps were tethered as aircraft obstacles and simply weather-vaned.

Brian Whatcott
Altus Oklahoma