Skip to comments.Hybrid aircraft touted for future
Posted on 11/12/2006 8:57:42 AM PST by thackney
Imagine a giant, turtle-shaped aircraft, a combo of blimp, plane and hovercraft, filled with freight, quietly floating over the ocean.
It sounds like science fiction, but serious experts insist it could someday be a reality in Alaska.
Hybrid aircraft, or airships, modern incarnations of the blimp, travel faster than barges and trucks and are cheaper to operate than jets. Promoters hope someday they may haul freight and supplies to remote locations in Alaska.
More than 50 business leaders, students and academics gathered at the University of Alaska, Anchorage on Friday for a round-table discussion on the airships and a presentation from two companies, California-based Aeros and New Mexico-based Hybrid Aircraft Corp.
Alaska is a particularly good market for the airships because of the state's many remote freight needs, like delivering supplies to roadless villages, taking fish to market or hauling oil exploration equipment to the tundra.
The airship is no blimp, Frederick Edworthy, vice president of Aeros, explained to the crowd.
"It's a completely different animal."
A blimp is a slow-moving, low-flying, difficult-to-maneuver, bullet-shaped craft, most commonly used for advertising, famously for the tire company Goodyear.
Airships are designed to carry cargo or passengers. They use a giant bladder, filled with non-flammable helium, and an airplane engine to loft themselves into the air. They fly just low enough to avoid having to pressurize the cabin like an airplane. They are much faster and more maneuverable than blimps. They don't require long runways like jets or a large crew on the ground. They also don't need to be stored in a hangar. Aeros is currently building a test craft.
Airships by Hybrid Aircraft Corp., which have been developed in a partnership with aeronautical giant Lockheed Martin, are further along in development. The company has built one and has orders for others.
(Excerpt) Read more at adn.com ...
The image is a computer generated simulation of the 50-ton net payload cargo configured hybrid aircraft, HAC SkyFreighterTM 50, the latest high-tech incarnation of a blimp, filled with helium and powered by airplanes engines.
Yeah, I saw this in Popular mechanics back in, I think it was, 1964. ;)
they should use the hot exhaust from a jet engine for lift, then controlled venting for propulsion :)
Looks like it would be really susceptible to wind shear, due to bulk, relatively low speed and low altitude.
I'm having a hard time visualizing an airship carrying 50 tons of cargo...since it's not just a helium lift device, it must maintain a certain airspeed to lift that much. Then would they have to land on a runway at slow speed, or dump the cargo at low altitude and suddenly gain negative 50 tons of lift? Yee haw! Ride em, airboy!
it does look really nice though!
They can use one to deliver your Flying Car...
Wind is light or scarce in much of Alaska much of the time. These aircraft could deliver bulk oil and gasoline to bush villages economically. Might be entertaining to test these aircraft in 60 below weather.
Might as well build zeppelins with modern materials.
Thunderbirds are GO!!!
Might as well build zeppelins with modern materials.You mean like these folks are doing?
Had a Thunderbird 2 diecast toy. Held a little yellow TB 4 in the cargo pod. Very nice.
OMG rack itt ROFL that cold MAN very funny
"Might be entertaining to test these aircraft in 60 below weather."
All sorts of surpising things gum up or even shatter at those temps. But, that's some pretty dense air, lol, so aerodynamic lift shouldn't be a problem. The other component of lift, helium, could be adversely affected, but I honestly can't say whether that would or would not be the case.