Harper's Weekly Cover with Charles Ritchel's Airship

In 1878 Charles Francis Ritchel, of Corry, Pennsylvania, invented an airship composed of a barrel-shaped gas bag attached to a frame with propellers, and powered by a hand crank. Ritchel was too heavy to fly the airship himself, and was thus always forced to find a pilot. The first public flight of his craft was in Philadelphia's Concert Hall in May 1878, and the first outdoor flight was in June 1878 in Hartford, Connecticut. He then went on to conduct many more successful flights both indoors and outdoors, mainly in New England.