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Flying Cigars?



Flying Cigars?
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.63

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    ballon, cigar-shaped, deutschland, dirigeable, keel-airship, nonrigid, semirigid, steam-power, steerable, propulsion, lightest, gasoline-powered, mechanism, hydrogen, production, helium
     content words:    Henri Giffard, Alberto Santos-Dumont, United States, Count Ferdinand, World War, Great Britain, World War II, New Jersey, Zeppelin NT


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Flying Cigars?
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     Aircraft come in many shapes, sizes, and types. Most people are familiar with the huge passenger planes that take us on our vacations each year or the small private planes that we see gliding through the sky during the summer months. There are some types of aircraft that fly or have been flown for special purposes. Airships fit this category.
 
2     Airships have been around since 1852. It was during this year that a French inventor named Henri Giffard designed and built a steam-power driven airship. Airships have a cigar-shaped gas bag filled with gas that is lighter-than-air to provide lift. These aircraft also have a propulsion system, a steering mechanism, and a gondola which can carry passengers, crew, and cargo. The gondola or control car has propellers that are attached to the rear. There may also be fins, in addition to the gondola, that are attached to the gas bag.
 
3     Almost forty years after Giffard made his invention, the airship became more practical when the gasoline engine was invented in 1896. In 1898 Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian scientist, constructed and flew a gasoline-powered airship. Since Santos-Dumont's flight, hydrogen gas was used as the source of lift in airships and balloons. Although it is one of the lightest elements on earth, it is also very dangerous and highly flammable. Starting in 1917, the United States began using helium gas for their airships. Helium gas is cheap to extract or collect in large quantities, and it will not burn or explode like hydrogen gas. Since then helium gas has been used worldwide as the preferred form of airship lift.

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