French Airship Sets Altitude Record
“Dirigible” is a French word meaning steerable or maneuverable. Société Astra des Constructions Aéronautiques (ASTRA) is a major French manufacturer of balloons, airships, and aeroplanes founded in 1908. The firm produced Wright brothers planes under licence but also built Astra-Torres airships. Unlike the Zeppelins of Germany they have a wooden frame rather than aluminium and a tri-lobed cross-section rather than the more usual circular cross-section. 11 compartments are filled with a “balonet” with inflated to fit the wooden frame.
On June 18, 1912 the Astra dirigible “Le Conte” and its crew of 6 ascended to a record height of 9,922 feet. The previous record had been 7,053 feet. The French have planned 7 new dirigibles for 1912 and ordered 13 more planned for 1913.