Wednesday, January 30, 2008

4th Airships to the Arctic Symposium - Commentary Part 2

Today we continue our coverage of the Airships to the Arctic Symposium that we started last Wednesday. If you missed part 1 you might want to catch up by reading it here. This second part continues the introduction of the conference and talks about the workshop and the public lecture that were held on the day before the actual conference started. Again the commentary was written by Charles R Luffman of LTA Solutions. If you have any questions regarding the conference either send us an email or contact him directly, he also offers engineering consulting for the airship industry.
Making it Happen

Promotion of Airships to the Arctic and ISO Polar's efforts are therefore seen to be logical activities to enable timely and effective solutions. Whilst previous symposiums had paved the way, this symposium was organised with the theme of, 'Making it Happen'. So, with this in mind, the symposium was arranged with three consecutive parts, as follows:
- Workshop
- Public Lecture
- Conference

The Workshop

This first event got underway on Monday 29 October 2007 at about 2:00 pm for a 3 hour session as a combined ISO Polar Annual Meeting and, more particularly, a Workshop to discuss matters. 33 delegates attended the Workshop in a large first floor room of the hotel.

With Barry chairing a logical progression of the subject matters ensued. First, as one would expect, was an introduction from each delegate around the large table to say who they were and explain their reasons for being there.

From this we learned about the diverse interests of the delegates. 13 were international delegates, with the rest (20) from Canada. Of the international delegates, 5 were from the USA, 4 from Germany (including myself, a Brit), 2 from the UK, 1 from Australia and 1 from Japan (there to monitor rather than contribute).

Whilst Canada does have some LTA companies, notably: 21st Century Airships (run by Hokan Colting, from Sweden) and Advanced Hybrid Airships (run by Bruce Blake from down under); none were represented at the workshop. Hokan, however, was a speaker in the following symposium (more later). Also, Barry has a significant track record on LTA matters.

Nonetheless, my conclusion was that Canada does not have very much at the moment with regard to LTA technology, although it urgently needs it. Very sensibly though, it is taking positive steps to redress the situation (the reason for the symposium) and is open to international collaboration.

By contrast, of the 13 international delegates, 11 were active in the field of LTA technology and with 1 aspiring businessman ready to become involved. One might say these are the people who recognise Canada's needs and were there to help, as they may. Even so, practically all (including myself), need funding (a prime issue for the technology to develop) to make things happen.

Of the 20 from Canada, except for Barry, most had little LTA knowledge. These people were mainly there to explain their interest and express their real need for a solution to the effects of global warming, causing havoc with the winter roads. Although many were sceptical, they also were most interested to learn whether LTA aircraft were worth consideration.

The main group, around half of the 20, were involved with mining, exploration, construction, industry and energy supply (the later mainly wind turbines). These people expressed their problems and needs, which included transport of goods, large heavy parts and equipment. They also expressed their need for aerial cranes and the ability to undertake exploration for minerals and other resources by air.

Another large group (about 8) were people from the transport sector, involved in the movement of goods and people, as: distributors, advisers, regulators, carriers and haulers (air, sea, road and rail). From these people we also learned about their problems and needs. Certainly, some of these people could be customers for either LTA aircraft or their operation.

There also were a small group of people from the communities living in the northern regions who face the hardships and reality of their situation as the winter approaches. While they mainly were there to listen, we learned how they were developing networks to take control in their regions, to run the mines, harvest and manage the forests, undertake exploration and generally supply the resources they have – so must be included in any negotiations that follow.

This last group showed us the human issues we face. We must attend to these people's needs as our first priority, and without damaging their environment any further. In this way we perhaps will enable a better world.

Solutions were shown to be needed urgently (right away). LTA aircraft are a possible way for this, but we must cooperate to make it happen. ISO Polar appears to be the linking organisation for this, enabling its members to fulfil their goals.

To aid the proceedings, Barry also had sitting with him at the head of the table Harry Kelly, who is a successful industrialist from Canada with hard earned experience of what it takes to do business there – making it happen. Harry was there throughout the symposium with pertinent questions and advice, helping the proceedings to remain on track.

Following everyone's introduction, Barry started the debate by asking Ron Hochstetler to clarify the airworthiness authority's position with regard to certification and approvals. Ron explained the general position from a USA standpoint, followed by broad discussion of the topic.

The main issue from the discussion was to determine whether certification was a show stopper for LTA aircraft. Also, to understand the costs and time that the process of evaluation and proof of compliance takes before new LTA aircraft may enter service.

These issues were pertinent, since LTA types to fulfil the logistics operations needed in northern regions don't exist yet, so need to be developed. Really, though, the people from Canada had little interest in certification; they just wanted to know when LTA aircraft of a size and type necessary for the operations could start.

This really sums up what the workshop was about. Gaining an understanding of the issues and an appreciation of what it takes. Naturally, hybrid airships were discussed, as they appear to be in vogue at the moment, but it was made clear that they are a new type of aircraft with many issues that must be resolved before they could be used for normal service. Even so, it also was made clear that these types were not the only solution.

At 5:00 pm Barry duly brought the discussions to a conclusion. After a short break we then went to the 7th floor for the free Public Lecture in the Concert Hall (6.30 - 9.00), which had a stage from which the audience was addressed. This was an open event with several more people attending. About 50 total.

The Public Lecture

Unlike most conferences I've attended, the public event was a welcome addition, since it brought us in touch with mainly local people. From the questions after each of the 2 lectures, the audience were clearly interested in the subject matter and what we were up to, giving those with perhaps not enough time for the main conference over the following 2 days an opportunity to gain an insight.

Barry's first speaker was Dr James Blatz, a local man who is the Associate Head of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Manitoba. Regular airship folk might think, what's his interest in the technology? Well, his lecture was titled A Birds Eye View of Riverbank Erosion, so it was not so much about an interest in the technology, as what the technology could be used to do - although it was clear that he had become enthused due to involvement.

In James' case, it was a way to monitor a part of the Red river running near by from an overhead position without disturbing anything below. This was a task needed to assess the erosion that was occurring at a particular position. Interestingly, he used a small tethered aerostat for the purpose. This provided a low cost solution with good results.

The second speaker was your commentary's author. Well, it gave me a good reason to be there and I was interested to help Barry, as I could. Knowing that a lot of people in the audience would not especially be knowledgeable about LTA matters and airship possibilities in the 21st century, I had prepared a lecture on Lighter-than-air (LTA) Technology (A View from Europe) to speak generally, in layman's terms, about the whole subject matter.

For those who don’t know me, I am an aeronautical engineer who has specialised in LTA structures since 1981. About 4 years ago, I was asked by a teacher from a local high school in Germany to talk to the older students. The information prepared then was the basis for my lecture, with a picture on every page to give the audience something to look at if my talk droned on. Naturally, with so much material to cover, this was a possibility!

When my lecture was over Barry closed the day's events and we all then dispersed. It had been a long day, especially as my body clock was still on European time and we were due to start again in the morning at 08:15 for the first conference session.
This concludes part 2 of the commentary make sure to read part 1 if you haven't yet. Stay tuned for the next part hopefully in two to three days. If you have any comments please send them to us, we love to get feedback.

Monday, January 28, 2008

There's more than one way to skin a SkyCat

Today we open our book once again and add another chapter to the never ending story about Skycat. If you don't know about the Skycat story you should catch up on what has been going on over the last year. You can read the articles labeled "Skycat" here on the Blog to get an overview. But let's quickly reiterate for those of you who kind of know the basic facts. SkyCat was a project for a hybrid airship that combines static lift with dynamic lift. The project was first started by ATG a British airship company which was based in Cardington and went into administration a few years ago. The so called father of the SkyCat, Roger Munk then bought the assets of ATG as well as the prototype SkyKitten. The new company was called SkyCat Group Limited and was founded in spring 2007. First everything looked promising, and the hopes were high that the great SkyCat program would resurrect. But fortune turne quickly for SkyCat when Roger Munk was sued by Lockheed-Martin. The dispute was probably over the undeniable similarities of the SkyCat design and the P-791 Skunkworks Airship. You can see a video of the airship here. This of course brought the SkyCat Group into administration just months after resurfacing. But this Cat really seems to have 9 lives, because shortly after Hybrid Air Vehicles(HAV) was founded now back in Cardington, and back with the SkyCats. Not much is know about the activities of Hybrid Air Vehicles, but I am sure the next months will not be without something new coming out of Cardington.
Today we want to invite you to check out the new website of HAV that gives a company profile and presents the SkyCats at, sorry There is many ways to skin a cat.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

4th Airships to the Arctic Symposium - Commentary Part 1

After yesterdays events, we are now back to our normal posting schedule, we still have way more material than time to write all the posts so let's get on with todays post, which kind of ties in to the Total Pole Airship Expedition which was supposed to got into the Arctic.
On Monday we released a Video about the Airship to the Arctic Symposium that was produced by CBC. If you haven't seen the video you might want to go back and watch it, it's a really nice report about airships and how they could help the transport business in the Canadian north. As promised on Monday we bring you today the first part of the commentary of the 4th Airships to the Arctic Symposium. The commentary was written by Charles R Luffman of LTA Solutions who was so kind to share it with us.
Symposium Details

This international symposium (see, held from Monday 29 to 31 October 2007 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, was a special event, compared with other symposiums organised by the main societies around the world, as it was primarily to promote the use of Lighter-than-air (LTA) aircraft (balloons, aerostats, airships, hybrids or other dirigible types) for use in Canada's northern regions. It was the fourth of a series of symposiums since October 2002 in Winnipeg at the Fort Garry Hotel (see chaired by Dr Barry E Prentice. The conference was sponsored and supported by ISO Polar Airships Inc.

Barry is Professor of Supply Chain Management at the IH Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba and the former Director (1996 - 2005) of the Transport Institute (see It is primarily due to his vision and determination, to provide a better solution for the supply of goods to people in the northern regions of Canada, that the symposiums were organised.

ISO Polar Airships Inc (see is a not-for-profit research institute (an association), founded in March 2005, to help make the objectives possible. This they do by promoting interest between the international LTA aircraft industry and the communities living (plus industrialists operating) in the northern territories of Canada. They undertake economic and engineering studies, coordinate demonstrations, facilitate certification tests and other activities that are in the public interest. They also are a lobby group, interacting with politicians and others to get financial and general support for the cause. Their mission is, ‘To encourage the development of airship technology for sustainable transportation and logistics in the Northern Latitudes.’

Why Canada Urgently Needs LTA Aircraft to Serve its Northern Regions

Due to recent climate change, people living in the northern parts of Canada have been experiencing increasing hardships. This is because of an inability now to deliver essential supplies (food and fuel) due to deterioration of the ice roads as a result of warmer conditions.

This may seem strange, since one might think warmer conditions are better. However, in the arctic environment, the warmer conditions are destabilising - causing changes that upset the regular pattern of life and the seasonal times established there.

With the momentum that has gathered, these changes are unstoppable in the short term and will continue and worsen unless uniform world action is taken to reverse the effect - unlikely. As a result, new reliable ways to deal with the situation at hand are needed just as soon as they can be provided.

Industrialists involved in exploration, extraction and harvesting of Canada's northern territories also need ways to take heavy equipment in and bring things out. Their needs are just as great as the communities’, who also need the work these activities provide. Even so, the solution needed is one that is not harmful to the delicate ecology or environment of the regions served and that doesn't exacerbate global warming even more.

Ice roads traditionally have been prepared annually for freight movement through the winter. The very low temperatures caused thick permafrost on otherwise marshy land and the lakes to freeze, providing hard surfaces over which trucks could be driven.

For this, the snow and scrub land must be cleared, and a smooth track prepared with special sections to prevent ice fracture to control the way vehicles enter and leave the frozen lakes, which may have flowing water beneath - especially where the lake is deep. Then, when conditions stabilise and the ice is thick enough (1 to 2 metres), the truckers get underway.

Even then it's a precarious business, where crashes, break-through (into the lake), entrenchment in the snow or slithering into ditches are constant dangers. This all slows the movement, until blockages, snow drifts and ice fractures are resolved.

Due to climate change, the northern communities now are almost unreachable over land during the cold seasons; mainly because of thin ice and/or poor conditions from the relatively warmer conditions. Autumn now lasts longer and spring arrives sooner, reducing the time that winter ice roads can be used safely. Also, in the autumn and spring periods, when conditions are unstable,little can be moved over land because it is not firm enough to support the trucks.

Because of the ice road problems sometimes communities now do not get all the supplies they need and must rely on small aeroplanes for essentials like food and fuel. Many inhabitants therefore suffer from malnutrition, with diabetes as a common problem and tuberculosis on the rise. Survival is a wretched struggle, resulting in low life expectancy.

The ice roads (very expensive to prepare annually) are the northern Canadian people's main life line. Now, because of global warming, they no longer are reliable and the period they may be used safely is somewhat limited, particularly because snowfall and other bad weather conditions affect their use. The people (mainly aboriginal communities) are confronted with inadequate housing, very high food prices, chronic unemployment and substandard services (water/sewerage, healthcare, education).

It's a dire situation that these communities face each year, where air or perhaps sea (if they are near to it) are the only alternative supply routes. Air freight is possible when conditions permit, but this is very expensive with old aircraft (like DC-3s and Hawker-Siddley 742s) and rather limited with regard to what may be carried. Movement of goods by sea in the winter months also is prevented by thick ice, where temperatures may be below -40°C, so also not reliable.

Heavier-than-air (HTA) aircraft (aeroplanes and helicopters) are used, but these have limitations of capacity and range, suffer from icing conditions and (for aeroplanes) need runways to land and take off - making it difficult to serve isolated communities. Because they can only carry small amounts and their costs are high, HTA types are unsuitable for main heavy freight duties.

LTA aircraft for heavy airlift transport and crane activities, however, have now been recognised in enlightened circles to be a possible way to overcome the problems of Northern Canada. Indeed, as displacement vessels, LTA aircraft get additional buoyancy from the cold atmosphere, when (due to gas contraction) they are topped up with a greater gas fill than they would otherwise get in warmer regions.

They also can be operated with little infrastructure on the ground and their efficiency improves with size - making them cost effective for large heavy loads. If they can also overcome the cold conditions and weather in northern regions, then they will be a solution.
We hope you liked the first part of our conference commentary, we plan on posting two to three more parts to conclude the commentary. If you want to read up on the Airships to the Arctic Symposium check out this post we wrote before linking to a lot of documents that are worth a read.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Total Pole Airship - accident confirmed.

We just got the confirmation from the Total Pole Airship Website, please read the Blogpost "BREAKING NEWS: Total Pole Airship Destroyed !? [Updated]" for continous updates as we get more.

BREAKING NEWS: Total Pole Airship Destroyed! [Updated with pictures]

Copyright by Thierry GarçonWe just got word that the Total Pole Airship got destroyed as it broke loose of it's mooring mast this night. This information is not confirmed yet, we will update this post on the Blog as more information comes in. This is what we go so far.
Thomas Goodey from the Flying Kettle Project send an Email to the Colorado Airship-list quoting from another Email list:
French Original:
Cette nuit, le dirigeable de Jean Louis Etienne a rompu ses amarres pour aller s'ecraser sur une maison pres de Fayence...

English Translation:
That night, the airship Jean Louis Etienne broke its moorings to go crash on a house near Fayence ...
Please send email to airshipworld at if you have any more detail about the incident.

[Update 1]
This is the original mail sent by Thierry Garcon to the Objectif Dirigeable Mailinglist
Bien triste nouvelle !

Cette nuit, le dirigeable de Jean Louis Etienne a rompu ses amarres pour aller s’écraser sur une maison près de Fayence

[Update 2]
The Total Pole Website just got updated here is the original french site, and here the english translation.

[Update 3]
Thomas Goodey provied us with a better english translation of the article from the Total Pole Airship Website
The dirigible of Jean-Louis Etienne taken by the winds

The dirigible of the explorer Jean-Louis Etienne, with which he was
to make his expedition in the Arctic, destroyed itself Tuesday
morning, at 6:26 on 22 January.

Mathieu Gauche, ground team member, was on watch when the dirigible
was lifted from its mast to the vertical by winds of 55 nSuds (I
suppose they mean "knots") (100 km/hour). The posts of 4 cm diameter
and 1 meter 60 depth, which held the mast, were all torn out.

Thus the dirigible had started its trajectory on the aerodrome when
the rest of the team of the Total Pole Airship expedition arrived on
site. They threw themselves into the search for the dirigible with
the aid of car headlights. The dirigible then rose to 30 meters above
the ground, and crossed the D562 road. The mast hit a hangar, and
finished beaten down by a gust on a neighboring house. (I suppose
they mean, the airship did that.)

Stephane Luchini, expedition pilot, checked the weather forecast the
night before at 22:00; no storm was forecast.

Jean-Louis Etienne will discuss the matter today during a press
conference which will take place at 15:30 at Fayence aerodrome.
We are looking forward to further details, but it's a sad day for the airship community our thoughts are with Jean-Louis and his team.

[Update 4]
Thomas Goodey keeps us updated on what he can find out via the Objectif Dirigeable Mailinglist. Here is what he heard so far
And another posting on the list says:

> A les degats, je pense qu'il y a peu d'espoir de voir revoler
> cet engin.
which means "From the damage, I think that there is little hope of
seeing this craft fly again."

And another posting says:

> Bien triste nouvelle effectivement, le ballon a subit une meteo
> extreme ce matin, des vents de plus de 120 km/h tourbillonnants ont
> eu raison de l´encrage du mat.
"Certainly very sad news; the balloon suffered extreme weather this
morning - turbulent winds of more than 120 km/h were the cause of the
mast being torn out."

> En effet le ballon est parti avec son mat, a traverse le terrain de
> Fayence deracine un arbre de 10m et s´est arrete autour d´une maison.
"And the balloon left the scene with its mast, crossed the Fayence
grounds, tore up a 10m tree by the roots, and stopped around a

> L´enveloppe est dechiquetee, la nacelle et les gouvernes ne semblent
> pas completements detruites.
"The envelope is mutilated; the nacelle and the fins do not seem to
be completely destroyed."

> J´espere que le demontage a les cisailles n´auront pas raison de ce
> qui a survecu
"I hope that the dismantling with shears..." I can't construe the
meaning of the rest of this sentence.
[Update 5]
Bloomberg picked up the story, and has a little report on it here.

[Update 6]
Reuters now has a story on the accident. Here are the most noteable bits, for the full story click here:
French explorer Jean-Louis Etienne had planned to depart on March 1 from Paris on a 10,000-kilometer (6,200 mile) voyage that was expected to provide a benchmark for monitoring the impact of global warming on the Polar Basin.

"The expedition is cancelled with this airship," a spokeswoman said.

"But Jean-Louis Etienne hopes to find another way of measuring the ice cap and perhaps he may put together another expedition," she added.

The project, sponsored by French oil group Total, had taken four years to prepare and cost 7 million euros ($10.15 million), half of which was spent on building the specially designed, helium-filled airship.
To me the most interesting piece of this report is that the project cost 7 million Euros and only half of that was for the airship, that means a Russian Au-30 can be build with "just" 3.5 million Euros, that is actually not that much money.

[Update 7]
The first pictures are available, the Daily Mail has an article on it here, called "Airship on its way to the North Pole slams into house in southern France instead"
Also AFP has an article probably from the pressconference. The article is called: "French explorer abandons Arctic mission after airship crash"
We also got some more information from Thierry Garcon that we will post later in another update.

[Update 9]
We got some more information in French from Thierry Garcon, that we would like to share accompanied by the auto translated English version of course. He also sent us a picture that we put in this post on the top.
DRAGUIGNAN (AFP) - Le ballon dirigeable avec lequel l'explorateur Jean-Louis Etienne devait effectuer une mission au-dessus de l'océan Arctique, s'est décroché de son amarrage mardi matin et s'est écrasé sur une maison de Tourettes (Var) sans faire de victimes, a-t-on appris de sources concordantes.

Les dégâts occasionnés au dirigeable sont très importants. "Sous le vent le ballon s'est envolé arrachant les piquets avec lesquels il était amarré", a indiqué à l'AFP la gendarmerie.

Le ballon basé sur l'aérodrome de Fayence (Var) où le vent soufflait à plus de 140 km/h, a heurté deux véhicules puis une première maison avant d'envelopper entièrement une autre maison où des dégâts ont été occasionnés à la toiture.

Sapeurs-pompiers et gendarmes ont été mobilisés.

Dans le cadre de l'Année Polaire, Jean-Louis Étienne devait conduire en avril l'expédition "Total Pole Airship" avec pour objectif de mesurer l'épaisseur de la banquise qui recouvre l'océan Arctique. Il devait survoler de part en part l'océan gelé en passant par le pôle Nord.

English version:
DRAGUIGNAN (AFP) - The airship with which the explorer Jean-Louis Etienne should carry out a mission over the Arctic Ocean, has stalled its mooring Tuesday morning and crashed into a house of Tourettes ( Var) without any casualties, it was learned from sources.

The damage to the airship are very important. "With the wind the ball flew tearing pickets with which it was moored", told AFP the gendarmerie.

The balloon-based airfield Fayence (Var) where the wind was blowing at more than 140 kph, struck two vehicles and then their first home before wrapping entirely another house where damage was caused to the roof.

Fire and police officers were mobilized.

As part of the Polar Year, Jean-Louis Etienne was supposed to lead the expedition in April "Total Pole Airship" with the aim of measuring the thickness of the ice covering the Arctic Ocean. He had to fly right through the frozen ocean via the North Pole.
This is the second piece we received from Thierry:
Bonjour à tous
Bien triste nouvelle effectivement, le ballon à subit une météo extrême ce matin, des vents de plus de 120 km/h tourbillonnants ont eu raison de l’encrage du mat.
En effet le ballon est parti avec son mat, a traversé le terrain de Fayence déracine un arbre de 10m et s’est arrêté autour d’une maison.
L’enveloppe est déchiquetée, la nacelle et les gouvernes ne semblent pas complètements détruites.

English version:
Hello everyone
Although sad news indeed, the balloon undergoes an extreme weather this morning with winds of more than 120 km / h were swirling due to the inking of the mat.
Indeed the ball went with his mat, crossed the field Fayence uproots a tree 10m and stopped around a house.
The envelope is shredded, the nacelle and control surfaces do not seem completely destroyed.
[Update 10]
Closing out our coverage today we will look at some of what other websites had to say today. Here are some links to some of the more interesting reports that circulated the web today.
Futura-Sciences wrote a nice article called "Jean-Louis Etienne : « la mission est annulée »" (English translation here) about what had happened and put in some good links. The best link was to, their article Jean-Louis Etienne : "J'ai envie de chialer" (English version here) is relatively short and does not contain any new information, but the article also features a big picture gallery of the airship and the aftermath of the accident. Check out the Photos of the Crash at it's not the fastest website but worth it. No other source we found had so many pictures. featured an article that seemed to have audio commentary available, maybe our French speaking readers can confirm this. Here is the article "Jean-Louis Etienne annule sa mission" (English version here)
Of course there are even more websites covering the incident the following list is just an excerpt, if you know of a link that has not been mentioned feel free to add it as a comment to this post. Some of these links were first posted by VideoActive and Joe BloggsThis concludes our coverage for the day, we will keep an eye on the Project just as we did before. Thanks for all the contributions by the readers and the community. All this information could not have been gathered by myself alone. Thanks for the support. If you liked what you read today, if you felt that Airshipworld was keeping you informed then may I ask if you are already a subscriber? Because if not why don't you subscribe to Airshipworld and get news like this directly delivered to you faster than you can check yourself. And the best thing is subscribing to Airshipworld is free. You can subscribe to Airhipworld in two ways. The first one is by subscribing to our RSS feed that way you get the news delivered to you by an Aggregator or Feedreader like for example. The second way is by subscribing via email. You get updates delivered to your email inbox. If you want to seperate news from emails then the RSS feed might be the best, if you rather have everything being directly delivered to you in your existing email inbox then the email subscribtions might be right, you have the choice. If you do not want to subscribe, please tell us why not. What can we do better, what can we improve so that it becomes interesting for you to subscribe to Airshipworld? Send an email to airshipworld at gmail dot com

Monday, January 21, 2008

Video from the Airships to the Arctic Symposium

It was October 2007 that the Airships to the Arctic Symposium was held once again in Winnipeg Manitoba. We have reported about it here and here. Since we have not yet given a report about the event we will provide you with some insights this week. To start the week of, we would like to present a great Video produced by CBC Canada. This is the original link to the Real Video which we copied to YouTube to make it accessible to a wider audience. We would like to thank Paul Boldt who sent us the link to this video.

Please check back tomorrow for our commentary coverage of the Event, written by our own Charles Luffman. Of course if you want to learn more about the Airships to the Artic Symposium follow this link.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Zeppelintours in Friedrichshafen - NT 003 and 004 pictures

John Christopher from Zeppelintours was just recently in Friedrichshafen again and brings us some great pictures from the Zeppelin Hangar, showing the NT #004 and NT #003.
Copyright 2008 by John Christopher
NT003 with artwork for Deutche Telekom, plus on the underside of the nose for the BKK Gildemeister Seiden Sticker insurance company.

Copyright 2008 by John Christopher
Work being done on the frame of the new Zeppelin NT07 #004 destined to be delivered to the US.

Copyright 2008 by John Christopher
In the foreground the almost completed girders of the Zeppelin NT #004 behind that you see the yellow bags where Helium is stored and the NT#003 having it's annual inspection. Airshipventures who are the future owners of the Zeppelin NT07 #004 also posted a nice picture of the Helium bags on their blog Up Ship!

Copyright 2008 by John Christopher
The new Gondola of the NT 004 is also taking shape in another corner of the Zeppelin Hangar.

Copyright 2008 by John Christopher
The internal rigid structure of the new Zeppelin is taking shape, it won't be long before the next one is flying.

Copyright 2008 by John Christopher
One of the props of the Zeppelin NT 003 undergoing maintenance, thanks to it's rigid structure it's positioned far away from the gondola making the ride a lot more quiet than in traditional blimps that have their engines attached to the gondola.

If you want to get so close to the Zeppelin NT and shoot some of those pictures yourself book a trip with John Christopher through his site Zeppelintours.
Additional Pictures from Friedrichshafen can also be found in the Blog posts of Airshipventures in Up Ship! for example:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Snow Bird a record breaking Airship

Copyright by the The Naval Airship Association we want to look at a very special airship that made history. The Navy Blimp ZPG-2, No 141561 called the Snow Bird. That went out to challenge the long distance record that was once set by the Graf Zeppelin on it's non-stop flight from Friedrichshafen, Germany to Tokyo, Japan. The two places where the Zeppelin is flying again today. Silver Donald Cameron brought the famous blimp back into our awareness with his column "Another way to fly: blimps" in the Chronicle Herald. The Snow Bird flew from South Weymouth, Mass to Europe, Africa and back across the Atlantic to Key West, Florida marking it the the longest unrefuelled flight ever made by an airship both in distance and time covering 9448 miles (15205 km) in 11 days. So when did that happen one might ask, it happened over 50 years ago and ever since no airship has ever come even remotely close to this record.

To learn more about the flight of the Snow Bird you might want to check out a few more great resources. The Naval Historical Center released a publication called Kite Balloons to Airships...the Navy's Lighter-than-Air Experience outlining the 75 years of history in LTA (Lighter-Than-Air) at the Navy. Chapter "XVI. LTA Records Set in the 1950s"(PDF) outlines the story on the Snowbird in great detail with many pictures. But the whole publication is worth a read. It's a free PDF download.

The Naval Airship Association also had a great article with pictures in their official newsletter The Noon Balloon(PDF) around page 18. Click here to get the Noon Balloon Number 73.

These where the Specifications of the ZPG-2 also called N Class Blimp :
General characteristics
  • Crew: 21
  • Length: 343 ft 0 in (104.57 m)
  • Diameter: 76 ft 0 in (23.17 m)
  • Height: 107 ft 0 in (32.62 m)
  • Volume: 1,011,000 ft³ (23,648 m³)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Wright R-1300-2 radials,, 800 hp (600 kW) each
  • Maximum speed: 80 mph (128 km/h)
  • Endurance: over 200 hours
How much would it cost to build and operate such a ship today? Would it not be a lot cheaper than 50years ago, wouldn't an airship build with new composite materials perform much better than this 50 years old ship? There is a future for airships, if it was possible to build something like that 50 years ago it's an easy task to build it today. Just take the old design, replace the envelope material with a better one and the engines, too and start from there. A proven airworthy design which could be optimized in future iterations.

So I can only agree to Silver Donald Cameron that airships have a great future ahead. They can provide alternative ways of travel with less fuel consumption than any modern air plane. Sure they are slower but there are lot's of applications where time is not so much an issue. Check out Mr Camerons Blogs Sailing Away from Winter and Silver Donald on Sunday for more columns and bits by him.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Zeppelin NT in Japan JA101Z

Copyright by John Christopher http://www.zeppelintours.comEver since the Zeppelin NT started with it's passenger service in Japan this winter, there has been quite some coverage. Today we would like to take you around the articles that have been written about the Zeppelin NT with the registration JA101Z. We have covered the Japanese airship already a few times last year. in June, July and November 2007 but let's look at what we haven't covered yet.

The probably most interesting article was sent to us by John Christopher from Zeppelintours it's an article on the Japanese Zeppelin NT which was published in the Tokyo Journal for Winter 2007/2008. You can download the PDF here (3.4MB)

Another really nice article is an experience report called "Up, up and away" from the Japan Times which describes the experience the editor made on his Zeppelin flight. Showing the reader once more that riding a Zeppelin is a completely new experience different from anything else up in the sky.
Another article that we found was"World's Biggest Airship to take-off soon in Tokyo" an article by outlining the operations from this winter. It was posted in late November just when the operations started. At a similar time "New airship era takes off in Tokyo"was released by the Guardian from UK on the start of the passenger operations of the Zeppelin in Japan. And last but not least there was an article by Reuters called "Tourists cruise Tokyo skies in Zeppelin airship" that is also worth reading.

The current flights over Tokyo just ended January 5th 2008 but if you want to fly on the Zeppelin NT in Japan maybe the spring flight schedule we received from John Christopher might interest you
It will be operating over the Osaka area for 19 days from March 20, 2008 to May 7th.
There are three flight routes:
  1. Naniwa Cruise: Osaka Area
  2. Bay Area Cruise: Osaka and Kobe Bay Area
  3. Mahoroba Cruise: Nara Area, Yoshino Cherry Blossoms and Asuka Area
Often described as Japan's second city, Osaka is approximately 250 miles to the southwest of Tokyo. It has its west side open to Osaka Bay, and is otherwise completely surrounded by over ten smaller cities, all of them in Osaka Prefecture, with the exception of the city of Amagasaki.

The cost of the Zeppelin flights varies depending on the course and the flight chosen. Flights are scheduled between 13:30-20:00, including the night flight.
2007.12.11 by John Christopher
Head over to operated by John Christopher who also operates Airship Initiatives. Check out his Website for everything about travelling with airships and especially the Zeppelin NT.

To learn more about the Japanese Zeppelin operations the Website of NAC (Nippon Airship Corporation) has always something to offer and check out their cruise guide (original site here) for current flight information.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Airshipworld Redesign

It has been quiet a few days on the Airshipworld Blog but now we are back and as you can see with a completely new look and feel. In the coming weeks we will tweak the layout a bit to get all old stuff out, that was left from the previous Blogger Template. We hope you enjoy out new look, which we hope is cleaner and easier to read. This is just the start of a number of changes happening to Airshipworld. The Airshipworld Association e.V. is in the process of being registered and the Conference preparations are under way. We also have a full Website registered and are working on setting it up too. Since we now have the proper infrastructure you will also see a lot more content coming up on the website than just this Blog. So stay tuned for an exciting 2008. What do you think of our new look ? What would you like to see in 2008 from us. Tell us in the comments

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 - The Airship Year in Review

Welcome everybody to 2008 the year 2007 is now officially over. Since we are starting into a new year, let's look back at the last year of the Airshipworld Blog.

April 2007
The first complete month of the Airshipworld Blog. We didn't know what we were getting in to and nobody knew us. But still we tried everything to get the Blog of the ground with 36 Articles in just 30 days. The most read article from April was the one about Skywork Media "World`s Largest Advertising RC Airship" (60ft/18m) now for Sale or Hire" we haven't heard a lot of news from the guys over in Turkey but I am sure that 2008 will also bring news about Skywork Media back on to the Airshipworld Blog.

May 2007
After a month with a lot of work we were slowly getting to know people. We slowed down with the posts mainly because I went on vacation an wasn't able to write during that time, still our visitor numbers were increasing. And the most read post was one that started out relatively harmless as a collection of links to interesting articles. But it turned into one of the articles that are still read a lot today. The article was called "Random airship stuff (ends up in court)" featuring Lockheed Matrin and Skycat. It was the beginning of a continuous coverage about the Fate and Progress of Skycat and the remainders of Advanced Technologies Group. I am sure we will hear also quite a bit about the Project ion the new year, we have already a few articles in the pipeline.

June 2007
In June main stream media suddenly realized that there is something like airships still around but they identified one as an UFO first. "Hyperblimp an UFO over Salt Lake City" was our take on Daniel Geerys Hyperblimp that got lost over downtown Salt Lake City due to empty batteries. The article quickly received quite a lot of attention but it has gotten a bit quieter around David and his Hyperblimp lately. I am sure we will have lot's to talk about in the new year. We will serve you with updates and new stories about this fascinating remote controlled blimp. Also in June we were able to do our first small event Coverage of the RC Airship Regatta with videos and pictures.

July 2007
The summer heat still rising we were picking up speed and readers as we proceeded into our 4th month. Which started out with a bang. The "Skycat group in adminsitration" was the first post of July and went on strong that month picking up the events from May. Followed by another article around Skycat and Lockheed "New Hybrid Airship Research Project - Memories of the Skykitten and the P-791".

August 2007
In August we delivered a lot of video posts, since we discovered how to do it. Most prominently was our exclusive Coverage about the 5th Airship Parade in Bad-Homburg . (Video 1, Video 2, Video 3, Video 4). We also had to report about the sad loss of the pedal powered blimp White Dwarf. But the we saved the best for last with our Post Airships are just like fish in the sky, which was an overview of some airship projects that use fish a blueprint for their development, check out this great article.

September 2007
September was one of the darkest months for the airship industry but also one of our most successful. We had to report about the sad loss of the Zeppelin NT Prototype that was stationed in Africa. Fortunately nobody was severely injured since the Airship was on the ground when the incident happened. But it also seemed to be time again for Skycat to resurface with a headline we titled "The Skycat puzzle continues" since this Cat really seems to have nine lives.

October 2007
October, or let's say the vacation month. Due to a long vacation I wrote only embarrassingly few posts, seven to be precise. But we were still able write a few but meaning full posts like Lockheed announcing the P-791 offically ? which got additional quality through the commenter on this posts, which makes it even more worth a read.

November 2007
As if someone out there read our continuing coverage about Lockheed and Skycat we where blessed by a video of the P-791 landing. The Video footage of the Lockheed Martin / Skunkworks P-791 and the Skycat Skykitten can be seen as the grande finale of 2007 in the Skycat story. But the story continues there is still life in that old dog.

December 2007
The last month was a slow one, because the X-Mas preparations and other celebrations took up a lot of my time. Of course since December is just over the Article from December 1st called "Blimp Pictures" got most of the visitors. But we would also like to add our article about the Massaud - Manned Cloud Hotel which we wrote December 29th. In contrary to many other articles out there we tried to dig down to the root and tracked this concept back to late 2006 which was surprising since it had just appeared to become popular almost a year after being on the Internet first.

That was our 2007 thank you once again without you our readers, this would not have become what it is today. Tell us about your favourite posts and airship stories of 2007 in the comments, what would you like us to do better in 2008? And if you have not yet subscribed to the Blog please do so by either subscribing to our RSS Feed with a feed reader like Bloglines or subscribe to our Email Feed and get an Email every time we write a new post. But also check at the Blog to get the full experience with embedded media, like video, audio and slide shows. We will leave you with a little slide show, of the pictures we used this last year. Enjoy and have a great and successful 2008.