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    Flying the Blimp

    It's New Year's Eve, and we're suspended 2,000 feet above Atlanta by an iconic bag of gas. It's kind of hard to believe I'm actually flying the Good year blimp.

    For a guy with zero piloting experience, I have to ask: Is this legal?

    "Yep," Goodyear pilot Matt Lussier says, sitting on my right. "I'm a certified instructor, and you're my student."

    Let me set the scene. High above the downtown Georgia Dome, where the Chick-fil-A Bowl is being played, Lussier, camera operator Tom O'Keefe and I are sitting in a tiny metal gondola with a passenger and cockpit area about 6 feet wide and 15 feet long. We're surrounded by windows, some of which are open.

    Looking out those windows ... it's a loooooooong way down.

    And winds out of the northwest at about 12 mph are making it a little chilly.

    We have to wear headphones to communicate with each other above the roar of the blimp's twin propeller engines. I don't mind telling you, it's more than a little unnerving.

    As Lussier put it more than once this night: "That's blimpin'!"

    In front of me on the floor are two pedals.

    "Put your feet on the pedals, and push the right pedal down about four inches," Lussier says. When I do this, the rubbery 192-foot-long aircraft slowly begins to turn right. "Now, push the right pedal all the way to the floor." As I do that, I'm surprised when the left pedal starts to push up against the sole of my left foot.

    Now, the blimp's right turn begins to speed up.

    Next, Lussier tells me to floor the other pedal -- the one under my left foot.

    Slowly, the lumbering airship reverses itself, bringing us back to a straight course.

    A wooden "elevator wheel" to the right of the pilot's seat is used to point the airship up or down. No fancy "fly-by-wire" electronics here. It blows my mind to think that the controls at my feet are directly connected by cables to the rudder and elevators on the blimp's tail.

    My five minutes as a blimp pilot trainee hammered home this fact: These aircraft are the ships of the skies. They perform a lot like ships or even submarines, Lussier says. The wind is the equivalent of ocean currents.

    The 32-year-old Lussier, who's been "blimpin' " for Goodyear since 2011, answered some of CNN readers' blimp questions. I'll tick a few off:

    Cont ... via link below g

  • #2
    Aeroscraft And Pacific Airlift Sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

    Aeroscraft Corporation, the innovator of a new variable-buoyancy cargo airship known as the Aeroscraft, and Pacific Airlift, a global leader air charter services, have signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate a structure for various business relationships.

    Pacific Airlift is an aircraft charter company focused on providing charter solutions for their corporate clients and has been in business for over 10 years. The two aviation leaders will mutually explore the benefits and structure of a potential utilization of Aeroscraft’s capabilities to provide air transportation and logistics services throughout the Asia Pacific region.

    The new partnership with Aeroscraft will allow Pacific Airlift to:
    • Offer access to Aeroscraft logistics services to partners and clients in project development
    • Take advantages of priority in the availability of the Aeroscraft service
    • Continue its history of innovation of becoming a launch partner for the Aeroscraft 66 short ton, ML866, and the Aeroscraft 250 short ton, ML868, models
    “Pacific Airlift is pleased to sign this memorandum of understanding with Aeroscraft and thrilled to further explore client solutions surrounding the introduction of this exciting new class of aircraft poised to alter the heavy-lift cargo transportation landscape with new point-to-point service capabilities,” states Andrew Sim, Director at Pacific Airlift. “Pacific looks to further expand our cost-effective charter solutions for commercial clients, while simultaneously introducing new service capabilities not possible in today’s air cargo logistics environment.”

    On the other hand, the new partnership with Pacific Airlift will allow Aeros to broaden the Aeroscraft’s customer base through Pacific Airlift’s client network in the Asia Pacific region.

    “As a global leader in project cargo logistics with a successful history focused on solving the needs of Asian clients and the broader Asia-Pacific region, Pacific Airlift is a welcome strategic partner for Aeros’ in Asia while introducing a new point-to-point network for air cargo delivery,” explains Igor Pasternak, CEO of Aeros.

    Pacific Airlift is an aircraft charter company headquartered in Singapore and focused on providing charter solutions for corporate clients in varied commercial sectors. Pacific Airlift is adept at providing customized aircraft charter solutions for all industries, and is committed to providing reliable, flexible and cost-effective air-freight solutions to and from locations throughout the globe.

    Pacific Airlift’s services are backed by years of experience delivering critical, valuable, time sensitive and at times, lifesaving shipments around the world. Pacific Airlift has been in business for over 12 years, and possesses extensive freight expertise and relationships with all major air carriers throughout the region, including experience with aircraft and airports globally.

    The Aeroscraft will solve current logistical problems through its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability when moving heavy and outsized cargo, and ability to transport ISO containers vertically, delivering to the full range of Pacific Airlift’s broad territory. Poised to enhance the air transportation industry, the Aeroscraft will deliver opportunities for commerce, humanity and ecology by accessing remote locations with less impact through this new VTOL cargo delivery capability that eliminates infrastructure development requirements.

    The proof-of-design technology demonstration vehicle for the Aeroscraft was successful in establishing its internal variable buoyancy technology in January 2013, known as COSH or control-of-static-heaviness, and the advanced prototype demonstrated integration of this key technology with other innovative sub-systems during flight operations in the fall of this year. The demonstration of technological maturity now leads Aeros into fleet development for two configurations of the innovative aircraft this decade, a smaller 66-ton capacity vehicle (ML866), and a larger 250- ton capacity vehicle (ML868).

    Aeros plans to have the first if its initial fleet of 22 vehicles ready for operation in 2016. The 66-ton capacity ML866 will have a range of up to 3,100 nautical miles, while the 250-ton ML868’s range will exceed 5,000 nautical miles.

    Last edited by Aviafora Newsdesk; 28th January 2014, 09:08.


    • #3
      World's largest aircraft unveiled and hailed 'game changer'

      The world's longest aircraft, consisting of part airship, part helicopter and part plane, has been unveiled and could be the key to greener more efficient planes in future as developers predict one day there could be as many of the hybrids as there are helicopters today.

      The world’s largest aircraft which can stay airborne for up to three weeks and will be vital in delivering several tonnes of humanitarian aid as well as transporting heavy freight across the world, has been unveiled.

      The 300ft (91m) ship is part plane, airship and helicopter, and there are plans to eventually use it to transport hundreds of tonnes of freight across difficult terrain throughout the world as well as deliver aid to risky areas.

      It is environmentally friendly, being part airship filled with inert helium, and will also be used for surveillance and communications. Developers hope to make more of the 'green vehicles' which they hope to make capable of taking off from land, water, desert, ice and fields.

      Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd (HAV), which created the hybrid craft, said they expect there to be as many airships as helicopters in the sky in years to come as they provide an environmentally friendly and efficient solution to transporting dozens of tonnes of freight and reaching hard to access areas.

      The company also expects to create 'luxury' hybrids, with infinity pools stretching across hundreds of feet, and planes being used for things like safaris and whale watching because they run on often just one engine so are quieter than traditional vehicles and can access hard to reach areas.

      Chris Daniels, head of partnerships and communications at (HAV), said: "These do something nothing else does. There's two variations - the ones that can stay in the air for a long period of time which can be used for things like communications and covering sports events.

      "They also have a pseudo-military use. Rather than having a police helicopter which are noisy and can only stay up for a limited period of time, these can stay airborne for a long time and be as overt or not as people want."

      The latest hybrid, which cost about £30 million to make, will be used for communications but the company is set to start making an even larger version later this year which will be able to transport up to 50 tonnes of freight and passengers. It hopes the industry could eventually create around 1,000 jobs.

      Mr Daniels said because of the way helium is used to power the ships, every time the length is doubled they can carry up to eight times as heavy a load. He hopes this will mean they can eventually make crafts capable of carrying up to 200 tonnes.

      However he said he can't see the ships replacing railways traditionally used to transport freight, but instead said the hybrid machines would be suitable for transporting very heavy loads in hard to reach areas like Canada and Africa.

      He added: "The climate change issue around ice roads in Canada mean another solution is needed, whereas with the security issue in Africa, this could solve part of the problem."

      Mr Daniels said several companies had expressed interest in hybrids so far, and they had also had a handful of enquiries from people who "just want one."

      He added: "Maybe one day it will be the case that people get the Orient Express one way and a hybrid aircraft on the way back.

      "The only limit is people's imagination."

      He said they will start building the larger version later this year, but hope to eventually be making them at a rate of around ten a year.

      Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden, compared the latest ship to Thunderbird 2 and described the craft as a “game changer.”

      “It will be able to cross the Atlantic and launch things right where they need to be,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme.

      “It can reach about 100mph and stay airborne for about three-and-a-half days.”

      He says he wants to generate publicity for the project and fly it round the world twice, and the company is currently running a competition for people to fly on the larger ships maiden voyage - expected to take place in 2016.

      The latest low carbon ship, known as the HAV304, is about 70 per cent more environmentally friendly than a cargo plane and doesn’t need a runway to take off.

      It has been displayed at Cardington in Bedfordshire in the only hangar big enough to accommodate it, built 100 years ago.

      It is due to fly in the UK later this year and the project has just received a £2.5 million Government grant to fund research into energy efficient and quieter planes.

      Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said: "The growing aerospace sector has the potential to generate thousands of new jobs and billions of pounds to the UK economy in contracts.

      "That is why so much effort is being put in by government and industry to ensure we stay ahead of the competition and build on our strong position as second in the world for aerospace."

      The ship was first flown in the USA.

      HAV plans to make between 600 and 1,000 of these type of airships in future and said similar projects are already being developed across the world in France, America, Russia and Australia.

      It will eventually lead to the development of the Airlander 50, which would be able to transport 50 tonnes of freight and burn a quarter the amount of fuel of a plane doing the same job. This craft will be even bigger, with plans to make it 390ft long (119m), 196 ft wide (60m) amd 115ft (35ft) high - making it taller than both Big Ben, which reaches 315 ft (96m) and the Statue of Liberty which towers to 305 ft (93m.)

      Plans for this hybrid also include fitting two hovercraft type vehicles to the bottom so it is capable of landing on water. There will also be space for 50 passengers on board.

      Stephen McGlennan, chief executive, said: "This Government support shows that HAV has a credible way of solving one of the aerospace industry's key challenges - creating a viable low-carbon aircraft which can travel for days and for thousands of miles without refuelling, landing without the need for airports.

      "It is a great story of a British company leading the world."


      • #4
        A new form of cargo plane that takes off like a helicopter is being developed at Lydd Airport

        4X4 Aviation , based at Lydd Airport, now has the financing needed for its multi-million pound project, to start building planes that take off vertically and land like helicopters.

        Company founder and director Thorsten Reinhardt said: “We now have a significant sum in sponsorship to get started and we hope to build 300 to 400 of these aeroplanes a year.”

        The new VV cargo plane being developed at Lydd Airport

        Details of the sponsors and their sums provided are being kept confidential but the project overall is expected to be worth £6 to £7 million.

        The company itself has already invested almost £560,000 towards the project and the project is expected to create 50 to 60 jobs at the airport over the next five years.

        Financing has also come from a £120,000 loan from Kent County Council’s business support scheme East Kent Expansion.

        4X4 had previously said it had been raising money through crowd funding, a system looking for big and small investors with a minimum offer of £10.

        The types of aircraft are four-winged VV Planes. The cargo planes will have an enormous hollow in the middle to land on and fit in a container.

        The first plane, expected to be made by this summer, is a miniature remote-controlled drone-style with a wingspan of up to 2 metres. It will take small cargos of up to 10kg such as medical supplies.

        Otherwise two forms of this plane will mostly be made, one for 30-plus tonnes of cargo measuring 18 by 18 metres and another for 10-plus tonnes.

        They are a type called VTOL (vertical take-off and landing), taking off and landing like helicopters and Harrier Jump Jets rather than needing runways. This means they are more flexible and easier to manoeuvre in most environments.

        The company is also developing a VV remote control model plane and a two-passenger microlight type.

        Mr Reinhardt, a 31-year-old German who lives in Godinton, Ashford, is the patent holder of the VV and designed it in 2004.

        The company set up at Lydd Airport last November and details of the project were first revealed by the KM in January.​