The untold history of helium; From birthday balloons to airships

Airships are almost forgotten today, but the United States had big plans to build them, knowing that there was a lot of helium in the North American soil. In 1903, engineers encountered a huge gas eruption during an oil drilling operation in Kansas. Of course, this process was not that unusual, because oil wells often contain natural gas; But in this sample, they realized that the released gas is completely non-flammable, and in this way, they reached clues of helium sources.

Very soon, other helium fields were discovered in other American states such as Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Due to this abundant source of helium, the United States after World War I accumulated a large amount of this gas for the purpose of building airships.

In the early 20th century, many aircraft carriers such as the USS Shenandoah were built in America. Inspired by the German high-altitude bomber of World War I, this airship was the first airship built by the United States and the first helium airship.

Just over two decades later in 1925, the United States government established the National Helium Reserves Authority in Amarillo, Texas, with the goal of conserving the gas to supply airships used for military and commercial purposes. Although often overlooked in history, airships were an essential means of American military operations during World War II as they transported both troops and supplies.

The ban on exporting helium led to the Hindenburg disaster

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