It’s Hard Up Here for a Blimp
Okay, so Wired beat me to it, but you gotta admit, it’s a great title. And, the story behind it is one that I’ve known about since last year when one of the two principals told me about it at a meeting. The “blimp” in question is actually a zeppelin (essentially a blimp with rigid airframe) — and the first to touch down on American soil in more than 70 years. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it belongs to a company called Airship Ventures, founded by a couple named Brian and Alexandra Hall.
Alex is an old friend and colleague who we got to know from her work with a couple of different science center fulldome theaters in England and the U.S. I ran into her at an Association of Science-Technology Centers meeting in Los Angeles a year ago and she regaled me over lunch with the tales of hers and Brian’s latest adventure.
I have to admit, I’ve wondered how this venture would go, considering that zeppelins haven’t been used much for human transport in an age of jet aircraft. Still, we’re all used to seeing the Goodyear Blimps (which are different in design but follow the same principles as zeppelins) in the skies over games. So the idea of gliding along in an airship that lets designers take advantage of the way gases can be compressed (remember the gas laws!) into bags (cells) that can be attached to rigid skeletons and used to loft people into silent flight isn’t a new one. I hope it goes well for Airship Ventures — and maybe sometime I’ll be able to save up and take a ride with Alex and Brian!