The Tisandier airship 'La France', 1883.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model (scale 1:50). Designed by the brothers Albert and Gaston Tisandier of France, 'La France' was the first airship to be powered by electricity. The current was supplied by 24 bichromate of potash cells to a Siemens 1 1/2 hp engine. In 1884 La France proved capable of steady flight and of returning to its point of ascent. However it was apparent that owing to the heavy weight of the batteries, electric power did not provide a solution to the longstanding problem of airship propulsion.