The White Dwarf envelope burst during an overpressure test at the end of the process of refilling it. The envelope ruptured over most of its length. The envelope was made in 1984, so it's way past its expiration date and the only way to have any faith in it is to test it to a much higher pressure than you would allow when flying it. We filled it to 0.3" inside the hangar, then took it out into the sun so that the urethane-nylon would be heated similarly to when we'd be flying it, and also to decrease the amount of helium it would take to bring the pressure up. There was some wind, and Gabe was holding the nose rope to stabilize it. One more tank of helium took it to 2", which is the nominal maximum pressure to allow while flying. Adding more helium brought the pressure past 4" and then it burst. The failure appeared to initiate at top of the nose load patch, probably due to the added stress of pulling on the nose rope (part of a realistic test.) There was a loud noise and the envelope draped over us. Pretty disappointing, but not entirely unexpected.If you can help Reed Gleason getting his White Dwarf back into the air please contact us we will forward it or write a comment in the blog.
Any suggestions on where to get a new envelope?
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Urgent News - White Dwarf envelope burst
Usually we do not post three times a day but this news item just reached us and it is so important that we need to report about it. Please pass it on. Just the beginning of this month we reported about the refilling of the White Dwarf that was to happen yesterday. This is the email Reed Gleason sent to the Topica Little Blimps list, thanks to Ken Delacy for forwarding it to the Colorado Airship-list: