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I was pondering what you said. Obviously some time ago, pegasai and their tools of trade had some edge. Being able to fly over rougher terrain and large and/or dangerous bodies of water and has access to pegasai based areas.
I guess some time some unicorns advanced in enough magic to keep up with the tech race. Same thing with Earth Ponies. Ponies like Cherry Blossom make me wonder if airships were an invention of earth ponies, giving flightless ponies access to the skies. This whole thread made me consider the world of Equestria more than I already have.
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DarkMech is Best Mech
Despite all the cool industrial steam tech and the beautiful scenery, the thing my eye keeps going back to is Trixie levitating the letter for Zecora.  
She’s not reading it with Zecora. She doesn’t obviously care about the contents. She’s not even paying attention. Just a casual “Oh, hey, my ability to warp space and time to my whim isn’t otherwise occupied at the moment, let me hold this slip of paper so it’s slightly more convenient for you.”
Man, if that’s not friendship, I don’t know what is.
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Earth Ponies have the strength and endurance to pedal-power a helicopter, but that appears to be a novelty rather than used for general transportation. Pegasi can levitate wagons they’re hitched to; however, there’s probably limits to how much they can carry that way–the most we’ve seen is a delivery van that required two or more pegasi in harness. For large cargo or passengers, Equestria appears to use a mix of airships and railway trains. Both good, solid steampunk technologies.
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@some pony  
Several people have already pointed out that earth ponies and unicorns can’t fly long distances like pegasi, so I’ll gloss over that and just point out this:  
Same reason as they have trains, really: Cargo capacity, and endurance.  
An air ship can move bigger, heavier loads than can be carried by one or two pegasi. And the mechanically driven transport can keep running steadily long after a pony/draft-animal would get tired or hungry.
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@some pony  
A hot air balloon is literally the first thing that pops up in the shows opening. It’s just another mode of transportation for those without wings. So it makes sense that they’d use an airship.