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Airships are ready to make their big comeback
IO9 ^ | Alasdair Wilkins

Posted on 05/04/2011 4:32:24 PM PDT by AfricanChristian

Ever since the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, airships have been a largely abandoned technology, their continued existence consigned to being a quick shorthand for alternate universes in science fiction. But now, 75 years later, airships might be ready to return.

To be fair to airships, the Hindenburg blew up because its fuel was flammable hydrogen - something its German operators had to use because the US banned the export of helium to the Nazis - and so it's perhaps not the best representative of the technology's abilities. Then again, the Hindenburg was far from the only airship disaster, and the subsequent rise of faster and more reliable airplanes removed any clear need for airships. Now some entrepreneurs are banking on the fact that the time is right for an airship revival.

(Excerpt) Read more at io9.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: airship; transport
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1 posted on 05/04/2011 4:32:31 PM PDT by AfricanChristian
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To: AfricanChristian

Perhaps a novelty more than anything else. In this age, I don’t see people hopping on a zeppelin to London for business purposes.


2 posted on 05/04/2011 4:38:58 PM PDT by He Rides A White Horse ((unite))
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“consigned to being a quick shorthand for alternate universes in science fiction”

Fringe fan?


3 posted on 05/04/2011 4:41:28 PM PDT by Reaganez
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To: AfricanChristian
“Consider northern Canada - the country has about 4 million square miles of land north of the all-weather highways.”

I suspect they meant kilometers, instead of miles.

That said, the article is correct about the potential for airships in remote regions.

4 posted on 05/04/2011 4:41:37 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: He Rides A White Horse
If we had this option, I can see a large market for freight business. There is no shortage of freight which has more urgency than an ocean vessel can meet, but does not have the urgency of air freight.

I can also see a substantial leisure travel market. There is a growing traveling population willing to trade in time for lower transportation costs.

5 posted on 05/04/2011 4:45:48 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: AfricanChristian

Related article:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=is-there-a-future-for-airships


6 posted on 05/04/2011 4:46:12 PM PDT by mgstarr ("Some of us drink because we're not poets." Arthur (1981))
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To: AfricanChristian

Just don’t fill them with hydrogen, paint them with solid rocket fuel, and fail to ground them properly.


7 posted on 05/04/2011 4:47:15 PM PDT by EricT. (I'm going to spend 68% more than I make this year- I hear it's the responsible thing to do..)
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To: AfricanChristian

Thanks for posting.


8 posted on 05/04/2011 4:47:53 PM PDT by gorush (History repeats itself because human nature is static)
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To: He Rides A White Horse
"I don’t see people hopping on a zeppelin to London for business purposes."

I would guess that heavy lifting/cargo applications would be their market.

9 posted on 05/04/2011 4:49:23 PM PDT by gorush (History repeats itself because human nature is static)
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To: AfricanChristian

Well thank God Clinton decided to sell off our helium reserves in 1996. /sarc


10 posted on 05/04/2011 4:51:37 PM PDT by piytar (The Four Horsemen: War, Pestilence, Famine, and Bob. Be not proud, Bob! (ht to Gen.Blather))
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To: Vigilanteman
I can also see a substantial leisure travel market.

That was the novelty part.

I can also see a substantial leisure travel market. There is a growing traveling population willing to trade in time for lower transportation costs.

It is interesting; something to mull over. Transportation costs are undoubtedly high, with no end in sight.

11 posted on 05/04/2011 4:53:23 PM PDT by He Rides A White Horse ((unite))
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To: AfricanChristian

that would be sweet....


12 posted on 05/04/2011 4:54:59 PM PDT by mike_9958
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To: AfricanChristian

Even helium airships can have horrible problems with bad weather:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Shenandoah_%28ZR-1%29

No need for hydrogen to make it dangerous....


13 posted on 05/04/2011 4:57:25 PM PDT by GenXteacher (He that hath no stomach for this fight, let him depart!)
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To: Vigilanteman

The article speaks of using it to reach remote regions, such as Canada. I’m wondering about icing problems, if they are prone to this problem, how would it affect lift, etc?


14 posted on 05/04/2011 4:58:04 PM PDT by He Rides A White Horse ((unite))
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To: AfricanChristian
And why not? Trains will make a big comeback by 2016

Seriously though, this story is older than the internet

12 Nov 2010 ... Airships are making a comeback!

9 Jun 2008 Floating the idea of an airship comeback - News - Travel - smh.com.au

28 Aug 1996 ... Airships' comeback is more than hot air.

And pre Google, I remember stories like this going back to the 1960s.

15 posted on 05/04/2011 4:58:04 PM PDT by Oztrich Boy (Monarchy is the one system of government where power is exercised for the good of all - Aristotle)
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To: GenXteacher

Good read.


16 posted on 05/04/2011 5:01:41 PM PDT by He Rides A White Horse ((unite))
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To: Oztrich Boy
Zeps have been on the verge of a comeback since May 6, 1936...

I'm sure that the fact that it is the 75th anniversary of the Lakehurst BBQ is only coincidence.

17 posted on 05/04/2011 5:04:56 PM PDT by jonascord (The Drug War Rapes the Constitution.)
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To: AfricanChristian
An unknown yellow spectral line signature in sunlight was first observed from a solar eclipse in 1868 by French astronomer Jules Janssen. Janssen is jointly credited with the discovery of the element with Norman Lockyer, who observed the same eclipse and was the first to propose that the line was due to a new element which he named helium.

In 1903, large reserves of helium were found in the natural gas fields in parts of the United States, which is by far the largest supplier of the gas.

18 posted on 05/04/2011 5:06:47 PM PDT by He Rides A White Horse ((unite))
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To: AfricanChristian

People said that ocean liners were dead when the Boeing 707 went into service. Now we have the cruise ships. They are for fun, not for business travel.


19 posted on 05/04/2011 5:07:47 PM PDT by forgotten man (forgotten man)
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To: AfricanChristian

The Hindenburg was an aberration, destroyed in inferno.

All the other huge dirigibles died in windstorms: Shenandoah, R-100, R-101, Macon, Los Angeles. The Graf Zeppelin and Graf Zeppelin II survived to be broken up for their scrap value.

Doesn’t the seventy year success of the U.S. nonrigid blimp fleet say anything?

Anyway, a balloon is a balloon, regardless of its shape, and is always at the mercy of the winds. Commercial applications, oh please. The Nazis got more use out of the Hindenburg during their 1936 `plebiscite’ when forty-two on board `Ja’ votes for Hitler were counted when there were only forty names on the manifest. Oh well.


20 posted on 05/04/2011 5:09:12 PM PDT by elcid1970 (Deport all Muslims. Nuke Mecca. Death to Islam.)
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To: gorush
I would guess that heavy lifting/cargo applications would be their market.

We'll see; if there is value (esp. in these times), it can certainly be applied if the effort is made.

21 posted on 05/04/2011 5:13:02 PM PDT by He Rides A White Horse ((unite))
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To: He Rides A White Horse
I saw that as well and am wondering about a more fundamental problem-- economics. Hardly anybody lives in the remote regions of Northern Canada or Western China.

Maybe there is a specialty market to move mining equipment in and mined materials out or whatever. Maybe some opportunity to rotate some of those North Slope oil workers in and out for a little R & R, though I question it. Considering the money they pull in, they're going to prefer a two hour flight in and out of Anchorage for R&R, not a day or so on an airship.

I see far more viability on some well established route such as Boston to Dublin, New York to Tokyo or whatever.

22 posted on 05/04/2011 5:16:06 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: AfricanChristian

Not to put too fine a point on it, but hydrogen was not the fuel of the Hindenberg, but the lighter-than-air gas that provided it with its buoyancy in the atmosphere.


23 posted on 05/04/2011 5:16:06 PM PDT by Senator John Blutarski (The progress of government: republic, democracy, technocracy, bureaucracy, plutocracy, kleptocracy,)
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To: GenXteacher

Exactly right. Weather also got the Navy’s other two big airships, the Akron and the Macon.


24 posted on 05/04/2011 5:16:43 PM PDT by Bubba Ho-Tep ("More weight!"--Giles Corey)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

What do you think about their potential in remote regions in Africa? Do you think Airships are technically feasible?African roads are either in terrible shape or non-existent and few African governments have either the resources or could secure financing to bridge the infrastructure deficit.

If Airships prove to be a feasible low cost alternative to road transport, they could boost commerce in Africa. It is currently cheaper to ship a container from China to Lagos (Nigeria) than from Lagos (Nigeria) to Abuja (Nigeria) by road.


25 posted on 05/04/2011 5:22:23 PM PDT by AfricanChristian
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To: elcid1970
All the other huge dirigibles died in windstorms:

It was adverse weather that initiated the end of the Hindenberg too.

26 posted on 05/04/2011 5:23:46 PM PDT by Oztrich Boy (Monarchy is the one system of government where power is exercised for the good of all - Aristotle)
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To: AfricanChristian

To be truthful, the Hindenburg couldn’t have used helium, even if it was available. The use of helium would have required additional gas cells with even more supporting structure. The consequences of which would be critical sacrifices in the range/load equation that would have seriously impacted its marketing image. It would also have had serious impact upon already marginal handling qualities.

On departure on its famous last flight it was so heavily loaded it had to make use of “dynamic bouyancy” (in effect “surfing” the air in a nose up attitude) in order to takeoff. At cruise every effort was made to avoid rain showers to avoid incurring the additional weight of rain water absorbed by the aluminum doped (and extremely flammable in consequence) fabric covering as this might have forced the jettisoning of fuel and the embarrassment of an unscheduled landing at the flight’s outset.

Can modern “airships” overcome these limitations ? Its problematical, even given the advances in materials available to today’s designers. Even “aerodyne” designs are still subject to the same physical laws that governed the Hindenburg.

Airships don’t fit well in our modern air traffic environment. They require open spaces and low winds. Turbulence is their deadly enemy. But turbulence from jet traffic is endemic at all large airports. dUnless the purveyors of these “cruises” are prepared to create alternative landing zones not in conflict with normal air traffic and provide the ground control, safety and passenger services needed, I don’t see the idea having much chance of success. >PS


27 posted on 05/04/2011 5:25:32 PM PDT by PiperShade
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To: gorush
I would guess that heavy lifting/cargo applications would be their market.

It would be, and I remember articles saying the same thing back in the 1970's.

28 posted on 05/04/2011 5:28:32 PM PDT by Moonman62 (If gullible, uneducated and uncivilized people didn't exist, politicians would create them.)
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To: AfricanChristian

To be “accurate” the Hindenburg’s fuel wasn’t “flammable hydrogen”. It was diesel. In fact the Germans went to some lengths to recover the Hindenburg’s engines after the crash on order to preserve their “secret” -they thought - technology.
>PS


29 posted on 05/04/2011 5:33:17 PM PDT by PiperShade
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To: AfricanChristian

Good article. Thanks.


30 posted on 05/04/2011 5:39:01 PM PDT by Tainan (Cogito Ergo Conservitus.)
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To: AfricanChristian

Imagine a small bridge that could be built in sections near the place it is to span. Once the old bridge was dropped the new bridge sections could dropped into place by an airship. The disruption to traffic would be reduced from weeks to days. I assume the construction of the bridge would also be far simpler if it was done on the ground.


31 posted on 05/04/2011 5:39:24 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: Reaganez

‘Fringe fan?’

Didn’t see ‘Fringe’, but they used them in ‘Caprica’.


32 posted on 05/04/2011 5:42:14 PM PDT by Lucius Cornelius Sulla (Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable -- Daniel Webster)
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To: GenXteacher

I think Doppler radar makes it pretty easy to dodge weather now...


33 posted on 05/04/2011 5:42:28 PM PDT by piytar (The Four Horsemen: War, Pestilence, Famine, and Bob. Be not proud, Bob! (ht to Gen.Blather))
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To: AfricanChristian

I’m going to royally pissed if after more than 100 years of powered flight, I have to get on a stupid blimp.


34 posted on 05/04/2011 5:42:56 PM PDT by dangerdoc (see post #6)
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To: AfricanChristian
FWIW, The "Hindenburg" was quite luxurious, and the service was allegedly nonpareil.

The main salon even had a special aluminum grand piano built by Blüthner.....


35 posted on 05/04/2011 5:45:34 PM PDT by Emperor Palpatine (One of these days, Alice....one of these days.....POW!! Right in the kisser!!!!)
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To: Reaganez
I live in the Akron, Ohio area so the Goodyear blimp is a regular sight (during daylight hours) But a couple nights ago I was driving and saw a very large craft seeming to hover with lights that were positioned so that it looked like something out of a SciFi movie. Pulled off the road, turned off the engine, rolled down the window and voila! The rumble of aircraft motors powering the blimp.

It immediately reminded me of the scene in a Fringe episode where Olivia is a small girl looking up at a passing Zeppelin immediately after transporting herself into the parallel universe. Whoever did the sound for the engine noise of that craft got it exactly right. The other point is that if blimps and Zeppelins ever become commonplace the nighttime reports of UFO's will go through the roof. Seeing something at night that big in the sky moving so slowly is quite eerie.

36 posted on 05/04/2011 5:46:06 PM PDT by katana
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To: GenXteacher

Don’t forget what also happened to the “Akron” and “Macon”.


37 posted on 05/04/2011 5:47:20 PM PDT by Emperor Palpatine (One of these days, Alice....one of these days.....POW!! Right in the kisser!!!!)
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To: Vigilanteman

I will say that I would give it a whirl. They probably are much safer now (famous last words).


38 posted on 05/04/2011 5:47:54 PM PDT by He Rides A White Horse ((unite))
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To: AfricanChristian
As the article mentions, there are vast areas of Canada with no roads. The main potential for airships is to service oil & gas or mineral exploration camps in remote areas. It can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to put a road through to these areas — if that were even allowed. Roads are not wanted in many areas, for wilderness preservation. Airships could save money, where the alternative is a temporary road. Even ice roads are expensive; when one considers that they have to be built anew every year.

I don't know what the potential is for Africa. If there are permanent roads, it might be cheaper (in most instances) to fix them up. Of course, that depends on the amount of traffic, especially freight, that the roads carry. Roads tend to have a very high fixed cost, and lower variable costs. Anywhere that cargo planes are used, is a likely contender for airships.

39 posted on 05/04/2011 6:10:01 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: GenXteacher

All of the US built rigids had structural problems, Shenandoah, Akron, Macon.

The only Navy rigid that was sound was the German reparation ship, the Los Angeles.

Blame the Navy and Goodyear (and perhaps the German consultants)


40 posted on 05/04/2011 6:12:02 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: Oztrich Boy
It was adverse weather that initiated the end of the Hindenberg too.

And a bomb.

41 posted on 05/04/2011 6:15:24 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: Vigilanteman
I can also see a substantial leisure travel market. There is a growing traveling population willing to trade in time for lower transportation costs.

Low and slow along the Pacific Coast Highway, across the Serengeti, around the Hawaiian Islands, over the Grand Canyon, across the Alps, or through the Inside Passage. Could be a very good way to travel!

42 posted on 05/04/2011 6:27:28 PM PDT by ccmay (Too much Law; not enough Order.)
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To: PiperShade
"Can modern “airships” overcome these limitations ? Its problematical, even given the advances in materials available to today’s designers."

Are you familiar with Dynalifter? Any thoughts on its potential?

43 posted on 05/04/2011 6:57:13 PM PDT by Flag_This (Real presidents don't bow.)
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To: AfricanChristian

They could hang a gondola the size of Pittsburgh under Joy Behar and then fill up her big, empty jug-of-a-head with helium and float around the world frightening children.
“Eat your spinach or Joy Behar will swoop down and crush you!”
“No Mommy, No! Make the bad Behar go away!”


44 posted on 05/04/2011 7:17:00 PM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: piytar

That’s assuming the airship has the ability to remove itself from the path of a fast-moving weather system. Not much of a problem for a 500 mph airliner....most airships are not so fast-moving.


45 posted on 05/04/2011 7:47:04 PM PDT by GenXteacher (He that hath no stomach for this fight, let him depart!)
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To: blueunicorn6

Fill ‘er up with hydrogen instead..... :)


46 posted on 05/04/2011 7:52:47 PM PDT by GenXteacher (He that hath no stomach for this fight, let him depart!)
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To: katana
The other point is that if blimps and Zeppelins ever become commonplace the nighttime reports of UFO's will go through the roof. Seeing something at night that big in the sky moving so slowly is quite eerie.

What would give you that idea?


47 posted on 05/05/2011 1:10:47 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: Flag_This
Not particularly with the design cited, just the concept, which has been around in various iterations for decades.

I recall one past proposal was a “flying wing” layout ala Jack Northrup's pioneering designs. (Which weren't original to him, BTW, as two German brothers did seminal work on the concept during WW2, with at least one example a pile of parts at USAF’s Wright-Pat museum last time I was there.)

Frankly, from a pilot's standpoint, I don't see the practicality. Basically all that's being accomplished is a reduction in the aircraft's empty weight - which still has to be negative bouyancy with the aircraft defueled and unloaded or you face even greater control/movement hurdles - and to gain this you have to “give up” a lot of wetted area as a aerodynamic drag penalty which increases your power requirements, hence effecting fuel burn, which increases the basic weight, which reduces cargo load. And so it goes......

Alas, in aviation there's no such thing as a “free lunch”. Every aircraft design past, present and future, is a hodgepodge of compromises decided based upon specifications for weight, range, speed, handling characteristics, operating environment and a host of other criteria. “Getting” something means “giving” something somewhere else in the performance envelope. We already have a host of HTA “heavy lifter” designs in production, not to mention some very interesting “Superlift” WIGE point designs sitting in airparks.

Sorry, I don't see the concept as having much practical/economic application. If it did, it would be flying right now. >PS

48 posted on 05/05/2011 2:46:36 PM PDT by PiperShade
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To: PiperShade

There is a bright future for the “ Big Gas Bags” look how many have been floating around Washington for years and years.


49 posted on 05/05/2011 2:53:20 PM PDT by BooBoo1000 (Never pass up an opportunity to " Shut Up")
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To: jonascord

This is the 74th Anniversary. It happened in 1937.


50 posted on 05/06/2011 7:39:13 PM PDT by PghBaldy
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