A French engineer, Jules Henri Giffard, inspired by Pierre Jullien’s cigar-shaped airship, built a full-size dirigible (144 feet long, with a capacity of 113,000 cubic feet) and coupled it with a 3-horsepower steam-powered engine to drive a three-bladed propellor. He flew the aircraft around Paris on this date in 1852, covering about 17 miles in three hours, completing humanity’s first powered flight.

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