Henri Giffard

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Henri Giffard
Giffard portrait 1 200.jpg
Baptiste Jules Henri Jacques Giffard

(1825-02-08)8 February 1825
Paris, France
Died14 April 1882(1882-04-14) (aged 57)[1]
Known forsteam injector, Giffard dirigible airship
The Giffard dirigible, created by Giffard in 1852
A- Steam from boiler, B- Needle valve, C- Needle valve handle, D- Steam and water combine, E-Water feed, F- Combining cone, G- Delivery nozzle and cone, H- delivery chamber and pipe, K- Check valve

Baptiste Jules Henri Jacques Giffard (8 February 1825 – 14 April 1882) was a French engineer. In 1852 he invented the steam injector and the powered Giffard dirigible airship.


Giffard was born in Paris in 1825. He invented the injector and the Giffard dirigible, an airship powered with a steam engine and weighing over 180 kg (400 lb). It was the world's first passenger-carrying airship (then known as a dirigible, from French).[2] Both practical and steerable, the hydrogen-filled airship was equipped with a 3 hp steam engine that drove a propeller. The engine was fitted with a downward-pointing funnel. The exhaust steam was mixed in with the combustion gases and it was hoped by these means to stop sparks rising up to the gas bag; he also installed a vertical rudder.[citation needed]

On 24 September 1852, Giffard made the first powered and controlled flight travelling 27 km from Paris to Élancourt.[3] The wind was too strong to allow him to make way against it, so he was unable to return to the start.[3] However, he was able to make turns and circles,[citation needed] proving that a powered airship could be steered and controlled.[4]

Giffard was granted a patent for the injector on 8 May 1858. Unusually, he had thoroughly worked out the theory of this invention before making any experimental instrument, having explained the idea in 1850. Others had worked on using jets, particularly Eugène Bourdon who patented a very similar device in 1857.[5]

In 1863, he was appointed a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur.[6]

Death and commemoration[edit]

In response to his declining eyesight, Giffard committed suicide in 1882,[6] leaving his estate to the nation for humanitarian and scientific purposes.[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Our Paris Letter". The Bunyip. No. 895. South Australia. 16 June 1882. p. 4. Retrieved 17 March 2019 – via National Library of Australia., ...The death is announced of M. Henry Giffard, the engineer, tendered celebrated by the invention of the ' Injecteur Giffard.' He paid considerable attention formerly to aeronoutic science, and' established the captive balloons at the Exhibitions of 1866 and 1868. In 1857 he obtained the Mechanical prize of the Academy of Sciences for the discoverg of the injector, and was made a member of the Legion in 1863...
  2. ^ Jules Henri Giffard, retrieved 9 May 2009
  3. ^ a b Science Museum - Home - The Giffard Airship, 1852., Science Museum, archived from the original on 6 April 2012, retrieved 9 May 2009
  4. ^ Tissandier, Gaston (1872), Les ballons dirigeables : experiences de m. Henri Giffard en 1852 et en 1855 et de m. Dupuy de Lome en 1872, E. Dentu, retrieved 17 March 2019
  5. ^ Kneass, Strickland L. (2004) [1894], Practice and Theory of the Injector, New York: Wiley, ISBN 1-55918-306-3
  6. ^ a b Day, Lance; McNeil, Ian (1996), "Giffard, Baptiste Henri Jacques (Henri)", Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology, Taylor & Francis, pp. 285–286, ISBN 978-0-415-06042-4, retrieved 24 June 2009
  7. ^ "Science. Scientific Gossip". Leader. Vol. XLVI, no. 1417. Victoria, Australia. 17 February 1883. p. 8. Retrieved 17 March 2019 – via National Library of Australia., ...Henri Giffard, who bequeathed his large fortune for the endowment of scientific research...
  8. ^ a b Grand ballon captif a vapeur, de M. Henry Giffard [text], Typographie P. Mouillot, 1878, retrieved 17 March 2019, ...Blank form for passengers to record "observations" (data) during ascents in Giffard's giant captive balloon from the Tuileries courtyard in the Paris Exposition of 1878...
  9. ^ "A MONSTER BALLOON". Adelaide Observer. Vol. XXXIII, no. 1838. South Australia. 23 December 1876. p. 20. Retrieved 17 March 2019 – via National Library of Australia.


External links[edit]