The 1920s and 1930s are sometimes called "the age of the dirigible." Dirigibles were giant, steerable blimps and zeppelins, and they used to be a popular way to transport crowds of people from place to place. But then there was the fiery Hindenburg disaster. And during wars airplanes could easily shoot them down. After that airships were pretty much reduced to flying above football games and other kinds of surveillance.
A Persistent Problem Overcome
Dirigibles never regained popularity because of a basic problem: they could only dock at special places where they could be tied down. Otherwise, they'd spring up into the air the moment you off loaded the cargo.
Now engineers have overcome that problem by simply compressing the helium upon landing. It's such a simple fix that its inventors are kicking themselves for not having thought of it sooner, and because dirigibles can lift extremely heavy loads much more efficiently than airplanes, the new airship's inventors believe we could see a new age of dirigibles.
Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, May 30: