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 Digital Record
Identifier: VBI_000572


  • Creation: c. 1851

Conditions Governing Use

Access to the Theodore Newton Vail Collection of Aeronautical Images, Broadsides and Clippings is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to the Institute Archives. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection.

Biographical / Historical

Ernest Petin (1812-1878) was a milliner who became interested in dirigible balloons. He developed a design for a navigable airship consisting of a large platform supported by four spherical balloons with a system of inclined planes and Archimedian screws. Petin made his first balloon ascent on August 3, 1851, under the direction of M. Poitevin. He undertook an ambitious series of ascents in the United States from 1851-1852, in part to raise funds for his larger project. Unable to attract investors, he never completed or tested his airship.

Language of Materials


Existence and Location of Originals

Box 25

Physical Description



55.7 x 45.0 cm

General Note

Clipping with an article describing historical balloon ascensions, including a detailed description of Ernest Petin’s airship. Two illustrations show the ship design.

General Note


Sources used for Biographical/Historical note

Crouch, Tom D., The Eagle Aloft, Two Centuries of the Balloon in America (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C., 1983), 217-220.

Hodgson, J.E., History of Aeronautics in Great Britain (Oxford University Press, London, 1924), 34-35.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US