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Anonymous Poster

Airships

03/17/2008 12:00 PM

Visiting South Florida recently, I saw that there is activity using blimps. It got me to wondering why airships never caught on as a luxury mode of air travel. I know they were used prior to WWII and were said to be quite luxurious. The Hindenburg Incident undoubtedly caused some fears, but the use of Helium VS Hydrogen would rectify part of that issue. Anyway, the number of lives lost in that incident was minor compared to the loss of life with even a small current airliner.

I heard a while back of someone looking at building a fleet of cargo airships, but haven't heard much of late. Why did they never "catch on", is it all about the lack of speed?

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#1

Re: Airships

03/17/2008 12:10 PM

I don't think anyone would have the definitive answer on that.

I think it's all of the above. Too slow, too much helium would be required to lift a load. (Goodyear blimp does not carry much, it's really small.) The Hindenburg was quite large, that because the lift capacity of hydrogen made it work better.

As for the fear? If given the choice, I'd pick death by plane crash over a slow burn in an air ship.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Airships

03/17/2008 12:38 PM

Plus aren't they just far too ungainly in windy conditions? I recall years ago watching a small (non-Goodyear) blimp trying to maneuver above our town on just a mildly windy day. It struggled terribly just to stay in roughly one general area, fighting to keep from drifting and turning one way and then another. I can't imagine trying to land such a beast on that day. Definately wouldn't want to have been the ground crew or the flight crew.

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#18
In reply to #2

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 11:07 PM

Mildly windy at the surface often does not impart the wind condition at altitude even 100' feet up is significant increase of wind speed generally. When is 8mph at ground can average 45 mph at 200'.

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#3

Re: Airships

03/17/2008 12:39 PM

They are painfully slow, but an interesting mode of travel.

The other issue is they are impossible to navigate in windy conditions. The biggest issue is takeoff and landing. Even moderate winds represent a huge problem.

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#4

Re: Airships

03/17/2008 1:19 PM

Ya, lighting storm, you crash and die! Helium, hydrogen, you will still be crushed into the ground. They don't go fast enough to get out of the way, or high enough.

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#5

Re: Airships

03/17/2008 2:31 PM

There are a couple of luxury airships under development, a quick google will confirm.


I would be all for it myself, assuming I could afford it.

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#19
In reply to #5

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 11:09 PM

Could replace your RV!

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#6

Re: Airships

03/17/2008 5:20 PM

i have read about a vertical ship with carbon ribs straght up - easy to manuver i guess and low hp small foot print on the ground - generate the hydogen onboard - just might work G.D.

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#7

Re: Airships

03/17/2008 9:05 PM

Look at the size of those monstrosities, compared to how much they will lift. Figure the size of hanger (and associated cost) you have to have, at both ends. They can't handle the wind speeds like conventional aircraft. Since the Hindenburg did cause a reaction against them, the infrastructure grew up around other modes of travel. That means it is an uphill battle, to put that structure in place now.

It all comes down to "The bottom line". They can't compete with aircraft, but they can (and do) fill a niche market.

It's just economics. But the luxury train survived, and so will the blimp.

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#20
In reply to #7

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 11:11 PM

It is designed for those whom stop to smell the roses

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#8

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 12:32 AM

Try taking a trip in a hot air ballon and you will realise that you are at the mercy of the elements.

You go essentially where the wind sends you, and landing in a breeze is quite hazardous.

At least an aircraft fights against the elements, and is a more elegant solution for getting to a destination than a flying dinosaur. If luxury to you is sitting back having cocktails and parties whilst suspended in mid air in a blimp, you may as well book into any hotel anywhere. You wont remember the experience!!!!!!

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#9

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 1:43 AM

They're slower than molasses, and really fickle when faced with a wind. And at an acceptably flying height, there will be no drinks served on the the balcony without the aid of an oxygen mask.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 8:06 AM

yeah, but imagine the base jumping opportunities....

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#11

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 8:18 AM

I assume they were not meant for transportation but just for fun rides that also in good weather conditions. It would be pleasent to sit in noiseless ship enjoy the sea breeze from low height and have excellent view of beach. Just for relaxations

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#16
In reply to #11

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 3:45 PM

"It would be pleasent to sit in noiseless ship enjoy the sea breeze from low height and have excellent view of beach. Just for relaxations"....

Until a land breeze too strong for the airship springs up and your up there until you are over the next place to land. There has been at least one hot air balloon accident in New Zealand where the balloon has been taken up early morning against predicted conditions, and the occupants dumped in the sea to drown. Next stop for the blimp is S. America!!!!

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#21
In reply to #16

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 11:14 PM

Life vests should be mandatory accessories...

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#12

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 9:16 AM

I am sure that part of the decision not to use blimps as a major mode of transportation or even cargo transport is the fact that the advent of using helium instead of hydrogen made the cargo (and passenger) carrying capacity of the machine go down significantly. Hydrogen is much lighter than helium and, thus, has more "lifting" capability. It would be financially non-rewarding to attempt to move cargo via blimps, and all but the very wealthy would be discouraged from using that mode because of this same phenomenon. Further, with the cost to passenger ratio that this diminished load-carrying capacity would inflict, there would have to be something very special to entice these "wealthians" to participate. One furhter thought, I believe that there would be some hesitation in the wake of the Hindenburg crash that is just too hard to erase from the minds of those travelers who might consider this option.

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 9:44 AM

Both the US and UK experimented with helium inflated airships for quite a while. Unfortunately the combination of rather fragile frames and a lack of power caused several accidents with fatalities. This along with the Hindenburg disaster pretty much doomed the concept.

With modern materials and power plants it might be possible to build an airship that is less vunerable to the elements. I don't know what the lifting capacity would be, but I'm not surprised that the concept is being re-evaluated.

Materials drive design. Some things that were not practical 50 years ago are workable today.

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 10:39 AM

You are right, ca1ic0cat, that "Some things that were not practical 50 years ago are workable today." However, the equation has now changed and the keyword "workable" has been replaced with the more contemporary word "PROFITABLE."

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 3:16 PM

To be profitable means it must be marketable. It definitely is not marketable as a viable mode of transportation. However if the balloon membrane is low maintenance and suitable to resist the elements and will not permit the permeation of helium then the operational expenses would likely be reasonable. It could make a great novelty attraction. Instead of a dinner train, how about a dinner airship? Even luxury vacations that incorporate travel by airship?

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#26
In reply to #15

Re: Airships

03/19/2008 3:15 PM

Thank You - that is what im talking about - good for you do understand - we have the people that have access to excevive amounts of money we just have to get them to put the dallars up for the protype - i can direct trafic but i need a team to get it done - So would the deep pockets please answer this plead Thank George

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#27
In reply to #26

Re: Airships

03/20/2008 1:07 AM

cal11599909,

This is a picture of your mother, and she wanted you to know that airships really suck!!!

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#23
In reply to #13

Re: Airships

03/19/2008 2:32 PM

Just listen - i have said this - i need a coment on the idea - Build a vertiical not horizontal after you got this part - then use carbon fiber ribs say 10ft apart cover the outsid with the new thin film solar film - they are screening it on film inside the ribs is the helium bag or waht ever else but the consept is the same - an airplane wing with an aileron to control thus using less hp to move - i think it can use electric blades - like the peditor un maned plane - need two prop motors top and bottom -

Advantage is small foot print on the ground - build it as high as need to lift watever with a little more ther could be units added or subtrated as needed - bagagage could be under the pasengers to protect them from hard landing? - this is artistic creative thinking - artist see the future - smart dumb are just smart you want to use both sides of the brain - we are not teaching this to our young - the imposible just takes longer -- Thanks George Dibble

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#34
In reply to #23

Re: Airships

11/26/2009 10:14 PM

took a long time - but i like your the idea - with B. plan cad sketches with drawings - I could get investors to build the first one - this could be with your help - Thanks George

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#17

Re: Airships

03/18/2008 7:34 PM

Welcome to the Land of Gulliver... http://darinselby.1hwy.com/welcometogulliver.html

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#24
In reply to #17

Re: Airships

03/19/2008 3:06 PM

what are you talking about ?

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#22

Re: Airships

03/19/2008 8:11 AM

I read something a while back about using airships as aeriel launch platforms (maybe for space vehicles) The article also discussed using airships as low level satellite platforms.

Deseng

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#31
In reply to #22

Re: Airships

03/20/2008 7:02 PM

The Pegasus rocket carries packages into space, by being launched from a high-flying 747. So far, I believe it has a fairly good record.

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#25

Re: Airships

03/19/2008 3:08 PM

what are you talking about do you know?

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#30
In reply to #25

Re: Airships

03/20/2008 5:43 AM

bagagage could be under the pasengers to protect them from hard landing? - this is artistic creative thinking - artist see the future - smart dumb are just smart you want to use both sides of the brain

what are you talking about do you know?

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#28

Re: Airships

03/20/2008 1:10 AM

The Hindenburg used an extremely flammable sealant on its fabric, which is the likely cause of the disaster. Modern materials would make a hydrogen dirigible as safe as most other modes of transportation. The advantage of dirigibles or the non-rigid blimps is that they can stay at altitude without power, they float in the air. That means less fuel used to travel a distance. As oil grows scarce, dirigibles powered by alternative fuels may be the best way to move large numbers of people by air. Landings in windy conditions can be managed if there is enough room to maneuver and a proper way to catch a landing line and pull them into a shelter. Those are just technical problems. Dirigibles can have very powerful engines which enable them to fight the winds and they can get to great altitudes enabling them to find calmer areas and avoid all but the largest storms. Do the research. They may not be practical right now, but perhaps in the future?

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: Airships

03/20/2008 1:19 AM

Regardless of the container, hydrogen is hydrogen. Also, the gondolas are small because, blimps, airship, or whatever you want to call them are not very good at lifting large cargo - people or otherwise.

Also, bad weather conditions seem to be the rule, and not the exception for lighter than air vessels.

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#32

Re: Airships

04/21/2008 3:04 PM

This forum has presented the best, down to earth replies to airship futures I have seen in a long time. Until production costs and flyability of airships are improved, they will reman impractical.

Personally I have been researching a new design, and can't even get a straight answer from plastic manufacturers on what plastic is used for packaging(saw pvc on one, not sure what that meant). You would not believe how hard it is to develop a new idea. Anybody in it only wants to talk about their ideas, and everybody else thinks airships are a screwball idea.

There is a large population paying big money for sailboats. They are also weather sensitive, hard to handle at docks, and slow. Big money.

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#33
In reply to #32

Re: Airships

04/21/2008 3:18 PM

Currently, I am working on an airship comprised entirely of adobe mud bricks. It's landing gear is deployed from beneath the gondola and consists of a Boeing 747.

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