La France

La France was a non-reinforced experimental airship that, despite its short existence, later inspired writer Jules Verne and aviation designer Ferdinand von Zeppelin. It was the first steerable aerostat to return to the starting point against the wind. In the sixties of the twentieth century, director Karel Zeman shot the adventurous film Stolen Airship, in which his main characters sail through the air on a very similar construction.

Aerostat was a joint work of pilots and aviation engineers Arthur Constantin Krebs and Charles Renard. The construction began in 1884 and thanks to the project’s financing by the government, the first flight could take place on 9 August of the same year. The machine took off from the aeronautical area of ​​the balloon units in Chalais-Meudon, and then the pilots took Arthur C. Krebs. After about 23 minutes the ship flew at an average speed of 17.2 km / h distance of 7.6 kilometers, copied the loop and returned to the point of takeoff. From that day until 23 September 1885 he flew six more times, and he managed to return five times to his starting point. During the last flight, pilots also managed to reach the highest average speed, which was then a total of 23.4 kilometers per hour. In 1886, both designers received the Ponti Prize of the French Academy of Sciences for their contribution to aviation. In 1889, their lighter air machine was exhibited at the World Exposition Universelle in Paris.

The airship consisted of a non-reinforced hydrogen-filled body with a 32.9 meter long bamboo gondola hung with silk. Inside was a space for pilots and a part reserved for the engine, which was at that time very advanced and modern. It was a 100-kilometer, 6.2-kilowatt Gramme-powered electric motor, powered by a 263-kilogram-weight chromium chloride battery. In front of the nacelle was a two-blade wooden propeller with a diameter of 7 meters, which was installed on the 14.9 meters long drive shaft. During the first flight, its speed was 42 rpm, in later flights it was up to 57 rpm. The entire vessel was controlled by a rudder and a set of weights. The change in weight in this system allowed the machine to change its center of gravity, which could then rise or fall.


Crew 2 persons
Airplane type Aerostat (type airship)
Motor 1 x Gramme electric motor
Výkon motoru 1 x 6,25 kW
  • travel 17,28 km/h
  • maximum 23,40 km/h
Length 50,40 m
Extent 1 864 m³
Diameter 8,40 m