The rigid-frame airship went down in flames as a method of transport back in the 1930s. Literally: The Hindenberg disaster ensured that nobody would get on a blimp except to film a baseball game for years. Now, though, Aeroscraft is on the verge of making the airship economically viable.
A Big Bag Of Gas
The Aeroscraft is actually a pretty smart solution in some ways. For example, one of the biggest problems with airships is that you have to fill them with helium, which is a non-renewable resource, and essentially means that an airship filled with it is flying all the time. This is a problem when you want to land, so Aeros invented a system where the helium is compressed in fabric “tanks”, increasing the density of the helium and causing the ship to sink. In addition to making the ship easier to control, it means airships can haul cargo.
Always Hovering, Never Landing
Another fascinating touch is that the ship has three engines, to provide lift and thrust, and a system that essentially turns it into a hovercraft. That’s especially important because this ship is designed not to take you on a pleasure cruise, but to do some serious work; namely, traveling to remote locations such as Alaska where airplanes can’t land and helicopters don’t have the fuel range, and trucking minerals back to processing plants. In other words, it’s a balloon that can land anywhere.
The Future Of Flying?
That said, there are practical applications beyond the remote. Airships are able to operate at reasonable speeds and cover pretty far distances, and furthermore, they’re relatively cheap. If Aeros really takes off, pardon the pun, the idea of speedy airship flights from city to city are not out of the realm of possibility. And it can also offer advantages for cargo.
In short, the blimp may just be the aircraft of the future. Or, at least so we hope.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.