Saturday, August 25, 2007

Airships are just like fish in the sky

Some time ago there has been an Article circulating the web about "Airships that «swim» through the atmosphere" the idea is to use so called electro active polymers to bend and airships body so that it moves like a fish. This Airship is constructed by the Empa a materials science and technology research institution that is part of the ETH Domain.
But this is not the only fish in the sky. Prospective Concepts another Company from Switzerland developed the Flying Stingray an ultralight lifting body in the shape of a stingray but still using propellers as propulsion. You can read some more background info at
But wait isn't there more? Of course there is. We proudly present the Festo Air Ray, a manta ray shaped helium filled rc airship that flies by flapping it's wings rather than using a propeller. Watch the stunning video of the Air Ray literally swimming through the air. A really innovative new concept that actually works. You can also check out the animation and a PDF with more detailed information and contact info. But the story about new and revolutionary concepts doesn't stop here. Last but by no means least, the Festo b-IONIC Airfish a remote controlled airship that uses an ion beam propulsion system. Yes you read correct those ion beam drives that are used in space missions are now applied to propulsion systems or aircraft. But besides using this just for propulsion the engineers at Festo also discovered that the effect created could also be used to reduce and even eliminate drag if the whole vessel would be enclosed by a ionized plasma bubble. When one thinks about airships and their huge surface area and the aerodynamic drag they produce this might be a solution that could change how we look at airships. Check out the video of the Airfish and the PDF going into detail and also containing some more pictures. We will continue to look at Festo in the future, since they are an active supporter of the Lighter-Than-Air community, right now also supporting GEFA-Flug in the development of the new 6 seater Hot Airship by donating their Envelope for tests. But more about that in a different post.
Do you know of any other revolutionary concepts, and research projects that try to copy nature or just try to go new ways in Airship design? Please send us a link or write a comment we are eager to hear what is currently developed out there. I have to thank Paul Bloch a friend of Airshipworld at who send me the links about the Festo Air Ray and the b-IONIC Airfish, he is also involved in the Airship League activities, so expect to hear more from him and the League soon. Additional credits also go to Paul for his comment on the Aeroplume post who inspired the title.

Airships that «swim» through the atmosphere
About the Empa
The ETH Switzerland
The Airship League
Prospective Concepts
Flying Stingray
Airship and Blimp Resources
Festo Air Ray
Air Ray Video
Air Ray Animation
Air Ray PDF
Festo b-IONIC Airfish
Airfish Video
Airfish PDF


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