The Giffard Dirigible, flying from Paris to Trappes, 1852.
In France, an engineer named Henri Giffard (1825-82) was leading the way in les ballons dirigeable, French for directable balloons, and from which English adapted the word dirigible.
In 1852, Giffard’s airship made the first recorded successful powered and steerable flight.
The intrepid inventor flew his machine from the Paris Hippodrome to Trappes, a distance of 17 miles (27 km), in roughly 3 hours. The craft proved manoeuvrable, making many navigational turns and performing circles, but the engine wasn’t powerful enough to fly against the wind and failed to make a return journey.
The balloon was 144 feet long (44 m), hydrogen filled, and highly flammable, so the engine exhaust was diverted downwards by a long pipe.
The engine produced 3 hp, drove a propeller, and top speed of the dirigible was 6 mph (9 km).