All of us have enjoyed seeing the Goodyear Blimp flying over our favorite college football game, and over the years more and more blimps have appeared sporting such logo designs like Outback and Fuji. Many times I have watched them tether blimps here in Lansing in preparation for a Michigan State football game.
Well, perhaps there is a blimp in YOUR future! You will recall earlier I wrote a blog about the solar powered aircraft, but the problem was it couldn't carry any weight. Well, perhaps the answer is a blimp. Two inventors, Michael Kuehlmuss and Dan Nachbar, wanted to figure out what could carry more weight and need less power? The answer, according to Nachbar, is a blimp.
With this in mind the two set to work building a 102 foot blimp nicknamed "Alberto". While blimps are not new, the price of modern blimps carry high flying prices starting at $2 million. The two hope to market their invention as an agile and quiet aircraft for between $ 100,000 and $ 200,000, thus the name Skyacht.
Needless to say early blimps used the light but highly combustible gas Helium, and modern day blimps use the inert gas Helium, but it is very expensive. So, what to do? Substitute hot air, of course! But this is not quite like a hot air balloon. Rather, it has an array of aluminum tubing and wiring using internal motorized winches to draw the ends of the blimp together, flexing the aluminum tubing and pushing the craft's shell out while expanding the blimp in the process. A small 24hp engine with propeller is attached to the rear, and pilot and co-pilot ride in a couple of Toyota Camry seats suspended in an open air cabin.
The new craft has passed some of the FAA's testing requirements, but because of it's unique design the FAA is trying to figure out how to classify the craft. While the FAA admits they have come up with something new and different, they are scratching their heads to figure out how to classify it.
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
For once you have tasted flight
you will walk the earth
with your eyes turned skywards,
for there you have been
and there you will long to return. -- by Leonardo da Vinci