Monday, February 20, 2006

BlimpSpotting - Future Flights of Fancy

News this week from two sides of modern airship development - the military and travel & tourism. CNN & Popular Science report that Igor Pasternak of Worldwide Aeros Corporation in California is developing a hotel in the sky (as in the doctored-up airport photo above). His Aeroscraft (pronounced out loud, is this too similar to Eros Craft?) is an airship that would cross the continental United States in 18 hours - not exactly jumbo jet speed - but not snail slow either. And it really looks comfy!

A part of my enthusiasm for these airships is a frustration with the current air travel system. It is largely based on 1950's technology. I'm 6'3" tall (1.9m) and loathe trying to squeeze into the seats of these glorified Greyhound Buses in the Sky they call jet airliners. I can really see myself stretching out in an airship like this one.

It's kind of hard to hide a blimp

The military is interested in troop & gear transport. From the LA Daily News article: "Code-named "Walrus," the new airship would fly using a combination of lighter-than-air gas - like conventional blimps or World War I zeppelins - and aerodynamic lift generated by the craft's shape, as well as thrust vectoring." The photo below is from a Lockheed Martin test flight on Valentine's Day. Looks a little like the Aeroscraft, huh?