Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Zeppelin NT - always worth an article

It has been roughly two weeks since the last progress update on the new Zeppelin NT and you deserve to get an update. So jump over to the Airshipventures blog Up Ship! and their current post "The Last Piece". Brian Hall gives us a nice update of the current state and progress. He says, the last piece of the frame is now completed and the envelope will soon be put on the frame. Check out the blog post for additional detail and pictures.
The Zeppelin NT also appears in the current issue of the Ryanair Magazine in an article called ZEPPELIN REBORN. The Magazine is the inflight magazine of the European budget airline Ryanair who also provide direct connections to Friedrichshafen where the Zeppelin is being build. Thanks go to John Christopher from Zeppelintours for pointing out this great two page article.

That's it for todays Zeppelin news but we also have our first bit from the yesterday mentioned blimp operations yahoo group. Leo Freitas pointed out an article about a white blimp that is studying emissions from a plant, it's a short article but worth the read. Once again an airship gets used for a scientific operation.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's gonna be a GoodYear for Blimps

Excuse the little pun in the title but it's true the new year starts out good for airships and it seems Goodyear has caught the blogging virus.
So as always it's quiet for a while around Goodyear and their Blimps and then bang they throw themselves back in to our radar.
Quite an old story that I almost completely missed was pointed out by Michael Vinarcik on the Airship-list. An old Lady who worked for Goodyear for 29 years got a ride on the Blimp for her 100th Birthday. The story that Michael pointed out can be found is this one Her 100th Birthday Wish? A Ride on the Goodyear Blimp! but we researched a bit and found some more. First some pictures from that you can get here and a short video clip from available here.
And then of course was the 50th Daytona 500 the most important and prestigious race in the NASCAR series on February 17th 2008 that got quite a bit of media coverage and of course also including the Goodyear Blimp. Rick Zitarosa on the Airship-list pointed out that USA Today featured a great Interview with Chief pilot Larry Chambers of the Spirit of Innovation. It's worth a read and quite enjoyable to get an inside scoop from someone inside of the Blimp. Speaking of inside scoop that brings us back to the title of this blogpost. As you might already have seen from the image that is attached to this article Goodyear has now an official Blimp Blog. Of course we are going to keep an eye on it and inform you if there is something happening that's worth noting. The author of the Blog is Martin Chandler, Assistant Chief Pilot. Since the Blog just started the beginning of February there are only 4 posts as of yet. But I am sure it will be growing. Here are the links to the first entries:This is the second airship pilots blog after Keiths Blimpin' Ain't Easy Blog. Go check out Keiths Blog, he recently passed his checkride and is now an airship pilot, flying with the Metlife Blimps. He also posted a nice slide show of the past 5 months in his latest blog entry.
Do you know of any other Airship Blogs that are written by someone working with one of the current operators? Maybe Zeppelin, Ros Aerosystems or Worldwide Aeros?

New Website Discovered: Blimp-Operations.US

It's Tuesday and yes I have let you waiting for some reading material. But this is not the only post tonight, there is of course lot's in the pipes and so I try to do two if not even three posts tonight so that you have some stuff to read. So as the title says i found a new Website. Maybe the website is not new new but it's new to me and I haven't come across it yet. The site is called and focuses on what the name says: blimp operations in the US. It's a nice little site that i worth a browse it contains a few links to sites that I haven't known before. Two things I want to point out in particular. Number one is the discussion group of blimp operations on Yahoo. Just go to and send a request to join their group. It's a small group with just 26 people and not a lot of traffic usually less than a message per day but they are always pointing out nice links and bits about blimp operations in the United States. The other one is a Flickr pool of Blimp Operations that has some nice pictures of blimps in it. Most up to date are a few close up shots of the DirectTV Blimp.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
So that was the first post for tonight. Please consider subscribing to the Blog via Email or RSS and spread the word, get your friends hooked on airships.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Black Water Down - The Blackwater Blimp wrecked?

Copyright by US Private military security firm Blackwater has been developing an airship called Polar 400 the blimp has been on tests at the Airdock #1 Hangar of the U. S. Naval Air Station (LTA) Weeksville in Elizabeth City. The hangar belongs to TCOM LP who have been part of the Polar 400 development. Today a rumor has circulated that this airship has been wrecked by a storm, this is unconfirmed information but we want to take this event to look at what Blackwater has been up to. The Polar 400 project is part of a new Blackwater sub company called Blackwater Airships LLC which was established in January 2006. has a nice article about the Blackwater airship program called "Blackwater aims high with unmanned aircraft" it goes into quite a lot of detail as to what is being developed and why. The article also features a collection of pictures showing the Polar 400 Airship with it's hydraulic propulsion system.
Since information about the Blackwater blimp are very sparse we would like to share a few additional bits bits of information with you.
The Polar 400 airship has the FAA registration N6542B, the arrangement of the engines is very similar to that of the Zeppelin NT with two engines on each side of the envelope in the middle and an additional rear engine, that has two props. A difference to the Zeppelin NTs prop configuration is that the aft engines are not vectored where as the Zeppelin can point one of it's aft props 90° downwards. A unique feature of the Blackwater blimp is that it is a blimp and still has it's engines attached to the envelope. Until now all blimps had their engines on the gondola. The Zeppelin NT uses it's internal rigid frame to allow positioning of the engines on the envelope.
There where some videos of the Ron Paul Blimp campaing when their Blimp started from the Elizabeth City, in those videos you can see the Blackwater Blimp in the background. Here are the links First Blimp Coverage!(Blackwater blimp always in the background) and "Takeoff"(Blackwater Blimp at -2:17 on the mast truck).
I want to thank Chris Jisi, Ken Delacy, Dan Nachbar, Joe Bloggs and Rick Zitarosa from the Airship-list for links and informations. If you have more infos and or pictures of the Blackwater blimp please share them with us, also if you have any more information about the rumored wreckage of the blimp. Leave your comments or send us an email. Also think about subscribing to the Blog it's absoluteley free and you get all the content directly delivered to you. You can subsribe to our RSS Feed or via Email. If you have a website on your own, why don't you put a link to us, and tell us about it, we will be happy to link to you too. Also please spread the word about Airshipworld we want to reach even more people in the industry but also the general public, university students and everyone else who is just interested in what is going on with airships in the world. Please help spreading the word and maybe make Airshipworld the homepage of your browser.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Airship links for week number eight of 2008

I have been collecting quite a few links in the meanwhile on my account, but i have also saved a lot of them private and haven't shared them yet, hoping that I could write a blogpost about them one day. While i have shared already almost 200 links with you i also have almost 300 links that I haven't yet shared. So I thought before those links get all dusty and old, I am going to publish 10 links every week, for you to browse through and to empty out my queue. So let's get started, shall we.
    Our inspiration and forefathers, the home of the Airshipworld Magazine which was formerly called Gasbag. The Magazine was produced up until 2003. Since then the website hasn't really been refreshed but it's a website that you should check out. If you know anyone from let em know that we want to help them revive the magazine.
  2. Vertical Airships -
    Vertical Airships is a very interesting concept for an airship that is not traditionally cigar shaped instead it's very high leading to a smaller footprint on the ground compared to traditional airships. Check out this project by John Engstrom and give him some feedback on his project.
  3. JP Aerospace
    Self titled as Americas OTHER space program the JP Aerospace program aims to reach space with lighter than air vehicles. The project dates back to January 2005 but recently it seems to gain traction, they also have a blog at
  4. Wikipedia Entry: Airship
    Of course everybody knows about the Wikipedia enrty for "Airship" but i just want to remind everyone that everyone of us can go and improve this article, update it with new projects or add more historic references. Also the Wikipeadia references dmoz for edited links to Airships sites, currently there are only 10 in there but you can also become an editor and help filling this directory. We will also try to transfer some of our links to dmoz.
    This article about a Contest with the Goodyear Blimp, where students had to throw a basket ball out of the blimp into a hoop, was featured on all the way back in March of last year, that was when we just started.
  6. The Mooringmast
    This website has been around for quite a while and has always been a great point of reference for links to airship related websites, I wonder if the Airshipworld Blog is linked there.
  7. Airship by John Dziadecki
    The godfather of all Airship websites, has been around for more than 10 years and is still one of the resources for reference when you want to get to know more about airships. John is also the owner of the often mentioned Colorado Airship-list the without a doubt longest running airship mailing list since November 1995.
  8. Hybrid Aircraft Corporation
    Yes the resemblance of the airship displayed on the first page of their websites bares a striking resemblance to either the Skycat or the Lockheed Martin P-791. The never ending story has not yet been completely solved but HAC is another puzzle piece worth checking out.
  9. American Blimp Corporation
    The American Blimp Corporation is owner of The Lightship Group and operates most of the Lightships all over the world. Their website seems a bit outdated but it's a good start if you want to get in contact with them.
  10. Millenium Airship
    A cargo airship project that is looking for investors to build their Skyfreighter which is supposed to carry up to 500tons of cargo.
I hope you had some fun browsing through those websites, if you know of any sites that I should have mentioned today wirte us an email or post in the comments, and while we are posting links, if you have a website it would be great if you could link to Airshipworld.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Airships are coming back to Moffet Field

We told you a few days ago that Airshipventures is preparing for the arrival of their Zeppelin and today they published a press release that will make airship fans very happy. Airshipventures will be based at Moffet Field the historic home of the Macon and many Navy Blimps. And start operating from there. They also are working with the local authorities about the possibility to use the historic Hanagar 2. check out their revamped Website at, they also posted a couple of Job openings in their career section so if you would like to work in the airship industry check it out, they will be opening more positions through out the next months.

Here is their press release in full text:
Airship industry returns to Moffett after 60 years
Moffett Field, California and Los Gatos, California—February 13 2008 -- Airship Ventures today announced that they are moving into offices at the NASA Research Park,
Moffett Field, California.

Airship Ventures, Inc, a corporation formed to bring Zeppelin NT airship operations to the USA, will be establishing its headquarters in temporary office accommodation at the research park pending an agreement with NASA that will see the company renovate and occupy part of historic building 20 on Shenandoah Plaza, the former Bachelor Officers Quarters.

Brian Hall, President of Airship Ventures, commented “We are very pleased to be taking this next step towards permanent operations. One can’t help but be inspired by the historic setting – the past home to the Macon and fleets of Navy blimps. How appropriate for it to become the future home to modern high-tech airships on the eve of its 75th birthday.”

The USS Macon first arrived at Sunnyvale Naval Air Station, later renamed Moffett Field, in October of 1933. The last blimp to operate at the field was deflated in August 1947.

Airship Ventures plans to commence operations with a Zeppelin NT in the San Francisco
area in the fall. This move marks their ramp up towards full time operations and the hiring of many key posts. Alexandra Hall, CEO of Airship Ventures, said “The NASA Research Park is home to a very innovative group of tenants who all have synergies with NASA Ames. I’m particularly excited about the range of science and industry partnerships that our being on site here could enable.”

Airship Ventures has been seeking local endorsement of their plans to use Hangar 2 at Moffett Federal Airfield, and in November 2007, they obtained a resolution of support from Mountain View City Council, as well as letters of support from Senator Elaine Alquist and Assemblywoman Sally Lieber. NASA has yet to formally announce the
outcome of its review on Airship Ventures’ use of the historic wooden airship hangar, Hangar 2, and airfield.


Airship Ventures Inc., founded 2007 in Los Gatos, California, is a privately owned corporation formed with the objective of bringing Zeppelin NT airships to the US for commercial air tours, scientific payloads, media and advertising operations.


The Zeppelin NT07 airship, carrying up to 12 passengers, will be the largest airship flying in the US. At 246 feet in length, it is more than 50ft longer than the largest blimp. Using the inert gas helium for lift, and vectored thrust engines for flight, the Zeppelin NT has been flying with an unparalleled safety record since 1997, in Germany and Japan.

# # #

Airship Ventures is a trademark of Airship Ventures, Inc. Zeppelin is a trademark of
Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH. All other product and brand names may be trademarks
or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Airship Ventures Contact:
Alex Hall
pr at airshipventures dot com
+1-650-969-8100 ex 102

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

BYOB - Build Your Own Blimp

Dominique Viard is building his very own ultralight blimp in the French "ULM Class 5" category. And is documenting it on his Blog, since the Blog is in French here the auto translated Version.
According to does the Ultralight Class 5 Category have the following specifics:
An ultralight balloon complies to the following technical conditions:
  • The maximum continuous power is lesser or equal than 60 kW for single seaters and 80 kW for two seaters;
  • the volume of helium gas must be lower or equal to 900 m3
  • the volume of hot air must be lower or equal to 2000 m3.

He has already posted two videos on his blog that we also would like to share with you. The first one shows him cutting the first pieces of the Envelope:

The second one shows him again gluing the first to slices of the envelope together.

Do you know of someone who builds a blimp like Dominique does? Which other airship/blimp categories are there in other countries? Do you know more, please share it with us in the comments. Also pay a visit to Dominiques Blog(in English here) and write a comment to his posts, I am sure he enjoys getting feedback.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Zeppelin Nt07#4 is almost complete and Airshipventures is preparing for it's arrival

It's been a only few weeks since we have give you an update on the progress of Zeppelin NT07 #004, you can check the pictures here. But things are progressing rather quickly and Airshipventures is writing about it in their Blog Up Ship! in the article "Getting a bit crowded" they feature the photo that you see in this post. The envelope is currently undergoing pressure testing and can be seen on left border of the picture. Since the envelope is one of the most expensive parts of an airship this has to be done with great care. In the middle is the Zeppelin NT07#3 with his t-city branding during his yearly inspection.
But this is not the only news that reaches us from San Francisco based Airshipventures they are soon (read this week) announcing some news, probably having something to do with their new "office" buildings. Check out their blogpost "Growing...", maybe the pictures might give you a little clue as to where they are going to be located. But keep an eye on Airshipworld as well as the Airshipventures Website and Blog. We will be publishing the news as soon as we receive it. In the meanwhile read up about Airshipventures in Airshipworld or read a few of their other posts on UpShip! like this one, this other one or this here.

Hindenburg picture and other military aviation art

I just found this picture of the Hindenburg and wanted to share it with you.

The picture is part of The Military Art Gallery featuring a vast selection of military art prints. There are more airship pictures in the gallery for example here pictures by the Artist Marii Chernev featuring a German Zeppelin over the English Coast 1916 and a German observation balloon in spring 1915. Maybe there are even more great pictures, have a look around in The Military Art Gallery and let us know. If you find a good one post a link in the comments.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

4th Airships to the Arctic Symposium - Commentary Part 4

Todays fourth post of the Airship to the Arctic commentary written by Charles R Luffman of LTA Solutions continues with day two of the conference. You can read part 1, part 2 and part 3 to catch up if you have missed them.
The Conference – Day 2, Wednesday October 31, 2007

This second day of the conference, again chaired by Barry, primarily was for people in the LTA aircraft industry to express themselves. It had been interesting to hear about the logistics and environmental issues Canadians faced in the northern regions from the previous day but, for those of us involved in LTA technology, it was to be our day to explain what LTA could and perhaps be developed to do with regards to the needs expressed.

A key issue for LTA aircraft in the arctic, which they must be able to cope with, is the very cold conditions. So, to begin the day 2 conference, Barry introduced Mayor Tim Johnston from the City of Thompson, Manitoba, to provide the welcoming address.

Welcome (8:15-8:30 am)

Mayor Johnston’s address was not just a simple welcome; rather, it was an invitation for the LTA industry to consider Thompson as a centre for cold weather testing (to enable suitable systems and procedures for the arctic conditions to be developed) and as a hub from which operations serving the northern regions could be conducted. This was a bold, although well reasoned, initiative from Thompson, demonstrating their enthusiasm to help make LTA operations possible without delay. This was good news for the LTA industry that should not be sneered at, so let’s get things moving.

Mayor Johnston went on to explain that Thompson had unique conditions suitable for cold weather testing and already was set up for this due to serving most major companies in the automotive industry and some aircraft organisations for this purpose. He further explained that, due to major reserves of nickel (the largest deposits of the world) discovered to the north of them, they were developing significantly as a distribution centre. Their regional airport is the 2nd largest in Manitoba and they are being linked by road and rail as a distribution centre for many things. It therefore makes good sense for transport airship operations to be centred there.

Besides, he gave everyone a nice little commemorative pin depicting the City of Thompson. So we need a reason to wear it, OK.

Session 1: Pushing the Envelope (8:30-10:30 am)

Barry next introduced us to Vic Gerden, Executive Director of the Manitoba Aerospace Association, to be the day’s first session moderator. Vic was keen to point out that Manitoba already has a thriving aircraft industry, and with composite component development, that may be leveraged to help with new LTA aircraft developments – both for the supply of trained people and to help with engineering activities. It appears Manitoba (at least) would like to become self-sufficient in LTA technology, so there is scope for cooperation to help achieve this objective.

Vic’s first speaker, an LTA technology leader, who I personally wanted to meet and get to know, was Hokan Colting, the CEO of 21st Century Airships Inc. Hokan is a pilot with many years in the LTA industry behind him. He was only there for the day to speak about his efforts in Development of a new Sightseeing Airship. This was a rather interesting arrangement, of which he showed a prototype version in flight via a short film. Typically, Hokan had devised a simply arranged but unique airship with precise control capability that would be cost effective to purchase and operate – ideal for the purpose. Of course, people at the conference perhaps would like to have seen something bigger that could be used for transportation. Well, maybe this was a step towards that goal, since the sightseeing airship should enable good revenue and experience for a sound foundation to his business, which could then enable bigger things. It was clear that he takes a pragmatic approach to new developments, which has helped in maintaining steady progress.

It is not a secret that he is working on the development of other types (including for heavy airlift purposes) but he did not appear to be ready to say anything about these at the conference. New airship developments are rather expensive; so, until the pot of gold for big transport airships is made available, folks should not expect individual entrepreneurs like Hokan to stomp up the development costs themselves for new LTA aircraft with a lifting capability like the Hindenburg that they would like to have – the final achievement from around 30 years of steady, hard (not always successful) development. In my eyes Hokan showed us that he is steadfastly tackling issues (such as good control at all speeds), which many in the industry have not addressed yet, in a practical way and this should pave the way to better things. Otherwise, a regular injection of necessary capital would be a useful accelerant.

Vic's second speaker, Michael Schieschke, who I also had travelled from Germany with a view to meeting and getting to know, is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH & Co KG at Friedrichshafen in Germany. A tall man with a law degree, Michael was there to relate ZLT's experience in Development of Geo-Physical Survey Applications - certainly relevant to exploration in Canada's northern regions. He also related an interesting project in Europe to monitor the atmosphere. Scientific equipment has been installed in a unit on the top of a Zeppelin NT and apparently is yielding excellent results.

Michael showed himself to be an excellent ambassador of ZLT, smart, articulate, attentive, open and well versed in the technology he advanced. Following his talk the delegates asked many widely ranging questions (not all related to the subject), which he answered freely, without hesitation. For example, he told us that a new Zeppelin NT would cost €10 million and have operating costs of €1,500 per hour. Used for tourism, the Deutsche Zeppelin Riederei (DZR) also were carrying 11,000 to 12,000 passengers per year, with ticket prices upward from €150 (I think), depending on flight duration. Also, the hangar in South Africa cost $1.5 million and yes, they were still in negotiation with De Beers for a replacement airship for the one unfortunately wrecked by a very severe storm.

With regard to Geo-physical survey, the Zeppelin NT was shown to be an excellent platform with precise control at all speeds that had delivered the results desired and with new diamond deposits found in Botswana. Michael also showed that it was a reliable aircraft, able to cope with most situations in a cost effective minimal requirements way. They also had devised a way to cope with extreme changes of temperature in Botswana between day and night, where the lifting gas (helium) would expand or contract beyond normal operating levels. Normal envelope operating pressure, he said, was about 5 mbar.

Nonetheless, the big question was, "did ZLT have plans to develop a large airship for transport purposes in the near term?" No doubt they are considering such developments, but the answer was "not at the moment". It all falls back to funding and the preparedness of those who want such aircraft to put their hand into their own pocket to help pay for the development. Until this is understood, it is unlikely that the LTA industry will take on such risk in the short term, since it must be an equitable shared situation. What was clear from Michael is that ZLT were making steady progress and intend to continue with manageable steps, as they are able.

Session 2: Keynote presentation (11:00-12:00 am)

Moving on, Barry introduced us to Dr Jon L Smith, the Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the East Tennessee State University, to be the next session moderator. He was well suited to this task, since his current research is orientated towards transportation economics and international entrepreneurship.

Even so, Dr Smith wasted no time in introducing his speaker, Dr Robert Boyd, the Hybrid Lift Portfolio Manager from Lockheed Martin (LM) Aeronautics Advanced Development Programs (otherwise known as the Skunk Works). Dr Boyd also had attended the AIAA LTA conference in Belfast, where I first encountered him. Prior to his visit to Winnipeg, however, there had been false media speculation about his trip (LM being so secretive about their developments) and this had been upsetting for him.

Naturally, everyone wanted to hear about the P-791 Hybrid Airship program, for which LM had given him their NOVA award for his leadership as its Project Manager. But it was not to be, perhaps due to LM restrictions on what he was allowed to say. Instead, we were lectured on the topic of Delivering Value with Buoyant Aircraft.

This turned out to be a 2 part thing where, with his jacket off, he spoke freely as an independent adviser on the subject and then, with jacket on, he spoke as a representative of LM. I could empathise with the advice he gave with jacket off - effectively on ways to deliver value; but we really could have done without the stuff with jacket on - primarily LM HTA aircraft war systems. Perhaps Dr Boyd was obliged to relay this material, but the HTA and high altitude application was way off the subject of the symposium and, to many delegates, of little interest. Otherwise I felt his personal advice was useful and that he was well intentioned.

Subsequent to the Winnipeg symposium, a film and some information has become publicly available. For those who want to know about the LM P-791, one source of this material is at:

Lunch Speaker (12:00-1:30 pm)

As for the previous day, we all walked across the hallway to the Crystal Ballroom for lunch, keeping the show running through discussion around the tables. After eating, we were supposed to hear from the Honourable Gary Lunn, the Minister for Natural Resources in Canada, who was not able to attend. So, filling the slot, Barry arranged another speaker to tell us about Optimisation of Airship Routes for Weather instead.

Barry's speaker was Ron Hochstetler, a Senior Systems Engineer with SAIC in the USA. Ron has been involved with LTA aircraft projects for over 20 years, having first been involved on the Piasecki Helistat programme. Until recently he also was the Chairman of the AIAA LTA Technical Committee. Through his work, he therefore is a knowledgeable individual who has dedicated his time to the furtherance of LTA aircraft.

Weather issues are a rather important subject for airships, where ways to operate effectively are needed. Ron's talk, also given in Belfast at the AIAA LTA conference, was about an algorithm that could be used to determine the best route between 2 distant positions, harnessing the wind patterns instead of just driving against them.

Session 3: Making Cargo Airships Happen (1:30-3:00 pm)

This was a special session, arranged as an Airship Developers' Panel, involving audience participation. For this Barry introduced 3 panellists active in the industry, as follows: Gil Costin, Mirko Hörmann and Alan Handley. Rudy Bartell, the Engineering Manager of the American Blimp Company had been invited to be a panellist, but didn’t come.

Gil, who is an ex US Navy Vietnam veteran and pilot of both fixed wing and rotorcraft with considerable flying experience (including Artic operations), is the Founder and CEO of Millennium Airships Inc. He told us that his company was transitioning from being a developer to an operator instead, in order to take advantage of the new hybrid airships being developed by LM. They now hope to be the first operator of such aircraft for transport operations.

Mirko Hörmann is the CEO of CL CargoLifter GmbH & Co KG a.A, which is a new company in Germany with the objective of taking over from the previous CargoLifter Company, still in the hands of the insolvency manager. Mirko was one of the shareholders of the previous CargoLifter, who lost his money due to the company's inability to continue with the funds remaining without further serious investment. Regrettably, that didn't happen, but it didn't deter investors like him from continuing to believe in the need for Cargo Lifters and supporting their development. Indeed, he was there with senior members of Zukunft in Brand, the association formulated following the original CargoLifter Company’s closure as a support group, mainly for shareholders, to help realise the objective of heavy lift aerial logistics operations. The new CargoLifter, I believe now with the intellectual property of the old company and the lessons learned from the original company, and with continuing support, appear to be well placed to make it happen.

Alan, the third panellist and CEO of Varialift Airships PLC, is an individual entrepreneur (an inventor, businessman and industrialist, who also is able to do his own design and engineering work) from the midlands in the UK. He is self funded and is working on the development of a demonstration article to show how his Varialift system works. I believe the demonstration article is intended to show how a buoyant vessel with variable aerostatic lift capability may be used to carry a large heavy load - initially, 2 tonne. I also understand that Alan has made good progress with this and should be ready to demonstrate his method soon next year (2008).

Following a short introduction from each of the panellists, Barry then put 3 questions to them, which they answered as follows:

Q1 How can small start-up operations generate the necessary investment capital to pay for theinitial stages of technological development?
  • Depends on right time and circumstances.
  • Get a wealthy person interested.
  • Go to the public with the concept.
  • Build, fly and use for revenue.
Q2 Other than investment capital, what does the airship industry most need to accelerate its development?
  • People willing to champion the industry.
  • People who pave the way.
  • Meetings, such as this one.
  • Trained people.
  • LTA academy.
  • User friendly regulations.
  • Flight corridor for experimentation.
  • A need, customers and developers capable to deliver reliably.
Q3 Why do you think that the airship industry has not been able to take advantage of its inherent environmentally beneficial nature to generate public and private investment?
  • Need LTA aircraft to demonstrate.
  • Need united industry and lobby groups.
Following the answers to his questions, Barry asked the audience if there was anything else. Naturally, your commentator sprang to the fore with the following:

Q4 What would you like LTA support groups around the world to do to assist?
  • Increase membership to gain critical mass.
  • Associations should work together (cooperate).
  • Hold more general public meetings like this one, instead of just technical meetings for the members.
  • Help with more publications.
  • Look more to the future, instead of dwelling on the past.
  • Structure journals and magazines better with relevant sections (e.g. to deal with heavy lift).
  • Make little known organisations, such as the Zeppelin Association in Germany, better known and working in unison with others.
With little time remaining after these answers, Barry closed the session. In his closing remarks he also suggested that the media should be more often invited to report on such events. With this, he pointed out the camera team filming the proceedings and then, after closing the session, was cornered in an interview by reporters. I understand that the reports later were broadcast on the TV and in the Canadian newspapers.

Session 4: Where's the gas? (3:30-5:00 pm)

Barry's last session moderator was Bill Zuk, an Executive Director of the Manitoba Aviation Council. Bill had two speakers to talk about lifting gas issues, the first of which was David Limb, a British chemical engineering consultant currently working in Canada for Opti as an air separation process engineer in Calgary. David also had worked in many places around the world on similar projects and holds patents for cryogenic separation processes and helium purification.

David’s talk was about Helium, its Recovery, Purification, Transport and Deployment as an Airship Lifting Gas. This was technically quite challenging for lay people, but of great interest to those of us in the LTA industry, since we need to know the issues. David went into detail about the way helium is recovered. He also told us about its scarcity and the problems of extraction and supply. Whilst there is sufficient helium for current needs, if the LTA aircraft industry gets going with big types and in large numbers, there will be a need to consider alternatives for the future.

Bill’s second speaker was Dr. Dirk Spaltmann, who (since 2005) is a serving member of the Board of Directors of the German Initiative, Zukunft in Brand e.V. (ZiB). ZiB is the association of CargoLifter shareholders and supporters, promoting the re-structuring of the CargoLifter Company. Dirk studied physics in Aachen (Germany) and Cardiff (Wales) and is now an associate at the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) in Germany. More recently (2006) he joined the German hydrogen and fuel cell association (DWV) and co-founded the Institute for new airborne transportation systems.

Dirk was there to tell us about Hydrogen Gas: Past and Future in Airships. His talk also was quite technical for ordinary lay people, but rather interesting for LTA folks, as he addressed in detail the Hindenburg incident. In addition he was quite informative about hydrogen and its use as both a lifting gas and fuel. His was a well researched and articulate account looking positively at the issues. No doubt there is a lot of work to do to dispel myths, overcome false notions and political circumstances arising from the Hindenburg’s fiery end. However, this was one of the first rationally reasoned accounts that I had heard addressing the subject in a responsible way. I hope to hear more.
And this completes part 4 there is a little bit more that we will put into part 5 we will also feature a lot of links and additional reading material in the next part, allowing you to delve deeper into the subject. Airshipworld has reported on may of the projects and subjects mentioned during the Symposium and we will continue. Where there any talks that you want us to cover more in detail? The new Cargolifter or the possibilities of using Hydrogen in airships again? Please post a comment on the Blog or send us an email.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

4th Airships to the Arctic Symposium - Commentary Part 3

Once again we bring you another part of our Airships to the Arctic Symposium coverage. This is part 3 in a series of posts. You can read part 1 and part 2 to catch up if you have missed them. All parts of the Commentary are written by Charles R Luffman of LTA Solutions.
Todays part takes a look at the first day of the conference and talks about each of the sessions that were held.
The Conference – Day 1, Tuesday 30 October 2007


As Chairman, Barry kicked the two-day conference off in the hotel’s 7th floor Concert Hall with his first guest, the Honourable Ron Lemieux (Minister, Manitoba Department of Infrastructure and Transportation), who provided a welcoming address. The Minister was clearly very pleased to do this, showing his enthusiastic support for LTA aircraft as a possible way to overcome the logistics challenges of northern regions.

His remark, “Airships will certainly be a reality. We want to be part of that”, shows his enthusiasm and he also stated that airships were “personally and government supported”. During his address he further said that, with airships, the town of Churchill by the Hudson Bay was viewed as a viable port (gateway) to America and he added that he was looking at making Manitoba the hub for LTA activities (primarily transportation).

These remarks from a government minister certainly are good news for the LTA industry and I hope this will make the difference to help make it happen. Up ship!

Session 1: Logistical Challenges in Resource Extraction (8:30-10:00 am)

For this session Barry introduced Eric Hinton of Golder Associates Ltd. to be the moderator. Eric is a mining engineer with a fair amount of experience in underground and open pit mines. He had attended the workshop, where he explained the needs of the mining industry. Eric’s first speaker (of two) was Richard Gibbons of Tolko Industries, Ltd. (who was not at the workshop).

Richard’s subject was Forest Product Transport in Manitoba. Nonetheless, he also told us about Tolko’s overall business and the responsibilities he had with regard to proper sustainable management of the resources and care for the habitat without damage to the ecosystem – minimising the impact of harvesting by selective cutting, new tree planting and reversion of land worked to its former state afterwards. He was a hard headed man with not much interest in fanciful notions, needing practical reliable solutions for the movement of large quantities of heavy logs, solid cut wood and paper in the remote regions. He was also interested in ways to monitor the vast areas of lakes and forest (with slow air patrols), assistance with the movement of equipment used, wood hauling and bridging across ravines or difficult territory. Although initially he stated that he could not see the link between his business and airships, the more he was exposed to the idea, the greater his interest became.

Eric’s second speaker was Ron Malashewski, the President of Cliff Lake Capital Ltd., who was at the workshop and who talked about Mining beyond the Roads. Ron’s professional background was largely to do with investment and finance. However, he also was concerned at corporate levels with business and strategic planning, project management, operations and maintenance. He holds a prospector’s licence and is a member of ISO Polar. He told us that ship routes were now opening earlier and lasting longer, and they were transporting 35,453 tons of metal annually. Transport operations between the port and the mines, however, was a problem where there was a need to move 150 tons per day over 750 km. He explained that the Saskatchewan region has money for development in order to extract new resources of uranium, gold, diamonds and many other critical minerals/elements. Even so, he said that the mining companies were only interested in reliable solutions for further exploration and movement. This was a consistent message from speakers who were interested but reluctant to invest in LTA without proof of its ability to deliver.

Session 2: Logistical Challenges in Resource Exploration (10:30-12:00 am)

The proceedings moved forward with Al Phillips of A.J. Phillips & Associates as the next session moderator. He also is an associate of the Transport Institute. His second speaker (David Owens from Major Drilling Group International), who was billed to talk about ‘Diamond Drilling and Mineral Exploration’, regrettably was unavailable. Whilst it would have been interesting to hear about this activity in arctic regions, from ZLT’s business with De Beers in Botswana, the subject matter was covered at the AIAA’s LTA conference recently in Belfast. So Al just had Stuart Russell, the Vice President of Braden-Burry Expediting, to introduce.

Stuart (who also was at the workshop) provided us with an interesting animated talk titled Arctic Gas Exploration. He covered most aspects of the logistics operations his company is involved in. He clearly was an enthusiast of the northern regions, having moved to Yellowknife in 1971 to live there. He was a flier, having been involved with Hercules flight operations and civil airlines over many years. He also said he is pro-airship, which he felt should be part of an integrated transport network, and is a fan of training and using local people for operations. His operations from Yellowknife supplied many Inuvik regions and ranged from Edmonton to the Beaufort Sea, where there were drilling operations. His air transport needs were for 2000 km range. He told us about his activities in developing numerous supply chains and clearly was instrumental in keeping things moving. He advocated utilisation of experts and his distribution needs for the oil and gas industry were from source to site. He told us that there was a need to carry heavy bulky goods together with fuel and passengers in combined operations, although the number of passengers on any flight was low (up to say 20).

Lunch Speaker (12:00-1:30 pm)

Lunch was organised in the adjacent Crystal Ballroom for the many guests, enabling networking to progress. Nonetheless, when our meal was over and keeping things moving, Barry introduced Dale Booth of Partnering First Solutions to address us while still at our tables.

Dale’s subject, Making It Happen: Procurement-based Initiatives, essentially was a proposition for the delegates to get together and come up with a way to begin LTA operations within 18 months. This was to be a sort of contest, where the winner would be awarded with a contract to supply the northern communities. Dale is a specialist of First Nations’ business, economic development and infrastructure who has held positions in the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, where he developed ways to enable success of First Nations economic development involving partnering solutions. He now has several First Nation communities as clients and is helping them to realise their housing and infrastructure goals. While his proposal was well received, this resulted in much animated discussion, because it was felt that 18 months was too short for a proper service to be established (needing certification by the authorities). Nonetheless, trials and demonstrations should be possible. This was certainly something to be developed and was similar to proposals that Ron Hochstetler introduced in the previous month at the AIAA LTA conference in Belfast. This is an exciting prospect that should help the LTA industry. Let’s get it on!

Session 3: Logistical Challenges in Serving Remote Communities (1:30-3:00 pm)

Barry, true to his cause, encouraged everyone back to the Concert Hall across the way in a timely manner where the conference continued. There he introduced Fred Petrie, the Accountable Executive for First Nations Transport Inc, as the next speaker.

Fred, who is a transportation economist and also attended the workshop, was there to tell us about his experience with Air-lift to Remote Communities. Showing his preparedness to help make things happen, he started his talk by offering to provide the test market for the first LTA operations. His company provides cargo and airline services for the remote communities of northeast Manitoba and northwest Ontario and his assignment is to enable it to be a stable/profitable enterprise for transition to aboriginal and employee ownership. He also is involved with Sasco Ltd., a winter road trucking business. With 40 years experience, constantly facing the logistics challenges of northern freight transportation, Fred was well able to inform about the issues and to make the case for a solution to overcome the worsening conditions discussed already.

Next on Barry’s list of speakers was Jim Huggard, the Manager of the Merchandising Division from Arctic Co-operatives Limited, who was there to tell us about Retail Logistics in the Arctic. Jim was not at the workshop, so had come especially for the conference to advise about the logistics challenges he faces. Having worked in Co-op Retailing for 28 years managing Retail Stores and Federated wholesale Co-ops, he was well able to tell us about the problems of the supply chain from the distribution point to the customer in remote northern regions. He uses every way available (barge, ship, aircraft, road and rail) for supply of merchandise, which could be anything from boots, food and fuel to furnishings, equipment and housing, depending on the urgency and conditions. Often orders were made a year or so in advance and the goods then put into storage until supply was possible. What was significant for customers was the variable rather high cost for anything ordered, depending on the cost of supply to different locations. Some of the essential goods, such as food, were subsidised and this was a great help in paying for the supply services necessary.

Session 4: Logistical Challenges in Project Freight (3:30-5:00 pm)

For the last session of the day Barry introduced Graham Starmer, President of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce since 1998, as the Moderator. Graham, a Brit who emigrated to Canada in 1969, also appeared to be pro airship, saying “it was not a matter of whether airships were needed but when would they be available to provide operating services!?” Another question he proffered was, “what are the alternatives?” No doubt there are alternatives, but at what cost? He explained that Manitoba was committed to extending the network of permanent all weather roads. However, these will cost several billion dollars, will damage the ecosystem, enable unwanted visitors (causing further damage) and contribute to global warming and pollution through their use. His view was that LTA aircraft were a better choice that would be cost effective and with minimal damaging effects. Let’s work to develop the industry and prove this view.

Graham’s first invited speaker was to be Don Finnvik, the Director of Business Development, B&K Trucking to talk about Wind Turbine Transport and Assembly, but regrettably he was not there. It would have been good to hear about the issues Canada faces with such installations and the extent to which Canada wishes to go with them. No doubt the remote communities would benefit greatly from these installations through year round power supply. I often see new windmills being erected in Germany and am sure that LTA may assist with both transport and construction (as a crane) to enable windmills to be installed almost anywhere. What we need, however, is a paid commission to undertake necessary development for such purposes. If enlightened people in influential positions, such as Graham, appreciate that the industry cannot afford to develop new LTA aircraft for their own sake, then there is a chance.

So, to explain the challenges of moving freight in the northern regions, Graham introduced us to Jerry Pokrupa, an Architectural Technologist from Keewaytinook Okimakanak (the Northern Chiefs’ Council). Jerry (who was at the workshop) had prepared a talk on Building Construction in the Near North. Providing housing for the northern communities, who badly need better living accommodation, is an essential supply chain issue – how to deliver the construction materials, often as large prefabricated parts or perhaps the whole building. Nonetheless, his talk was more about preparing and operating the winter roads from the main routes to the localised communities. He provided graphic detail of the severe conditions and problems faced, showing vehicles that had fallen through the ice or in ditches and crashed, where emergency recovery action was necessary. In almost every case, he said that the goods in transit were damaged and this had to be accepted because of the difficulties to re-supply. Naturally, this also added to the cost. Jerry provided details about the costs of building and operating the winter roads, which should be available when the papers are published, showing how these varied from one community to another – depending on their circumstances and the weather conditions encountered. His work was not for light hearted people, where difficulties and dangers were ever present.

Following Jerry’s talk, at about 5.00 pm, we were then introduced to Mayor Michael Spence from the Town of Churchill, Manitoba, to round off the day’s conference. The Mayor’s message basically was that they can’t wait 10 to 20 years for a solution. They need it right away, in order to simply survive and carry on. For people with ready and effective solutions it will be necessary to talk with the leaders in the northern communities, like the mayor, to reach agreement on how things will be developed. It appears that the finance essentially will flow via the northern communities, since they enable the mines and forests to be worked and the resources to be extracted. They also want to be in control of their own circumstances, where they need to take over and run the supply chain network. No doubt initial training will be necessary for LTA aircraft operations but, after all, they are there, need the work and know the circumstances they live under, so are best placed to run the operations. It’s all about cooperation.

Symposium Banquet – Reception 5:30pm Dinner 6:30 pm

It had been an intense day, so the banquet was a chance to relax in the company of good people from far and wide. Naturally this also was a networking occasion, forming new relationships and discussing possibilities. The banquet was held in the Crystal Ballroom, where we had previously gathered for lunch, so already familiar to everyone. What I hadn’t discovered before, however, was a glass roofed and floored recess with a bar. Naturally, this was where things started and it quickly filled with people chattering away. Even so, we were soon ushered to the tables for our feast.

The ballroom was filled with large round tables each seating around 10 people. Looking around it was apparent that, as well as the symposium delegates, additional guests from Winnipeg had swelled our number – probably over 100 people in total. As banquets go, it was a jolly occasion, thoroughly enjoyable on every aspect – good food, good wine, excellent company and flawless service. Just splendid! Then, when the meal was over, there was a celebration event.

In the spirit of Entrepreneurship that the symposium was held to encourage, Hubert Kleysen a retired businessman from the region, was honoured for his work, inspiration to others and contribution in the community as an Entrepreneur. But first, to understand what an Entrepreneur is, we were provided with an explanation from a learned fellow from the university. This was quite entertaining, as well as enlightening. After Hubert’s award he addressed the ensemble, recounting a few stories pertinent to the occasion. Hearing his words was a great way to end the day.
This is the end of part 3, thanks for reading all the way to the end, we are aware that this is quite a lot of text but you can do selective reading and we think it is important to publish what has happened during the conference especially for those who could not attend. There will definitely be a part 4 covering day two and probably a part 5 with closing remarks.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Airship Articles in the Yorkshire Post

John Christopher reports that the Yorkshire Post has two articles about Zeppelin and airships that are worth a read.
The first one, written by himself gives a general overview about the history of airships, current developments and gives an outlook into the future. You can read it here:
No longer pie-in-the-sky, the airship rises again

If you want to fly with a Zeppelin today you should contact John and his Company Zeppelintours which we have featured previously.

The second article focuses on a (HAP)High Altitude Platform that is being developed by a Company called StratXX. To learn more about what a high altitude platform is and detail about the StratXX project read the article:
Sky-Fi: Data with altitude

If you know of a new article that you found on the net, or if you have written a publication that you would like us to link to, send it to us at airshipworld at Also I want to ask all subscribers of the Blog to spread the word, if every reader refers us to just one other airship enthusiast, we could double our readership and extend our reach. But what do I say don't just refer us to people who already like airships, engage your friends and colleagues, show them the Blog and tell them why airships are so great, the two articles we featured today as well as the Massaud Airship should already be enough to get hooked but our Archives are big and have even more great content. And if you haven't subscribed yet, please do subscribe to the Blog, it's free and just takes minutes. You can subscribe to the RSS Feed or via Email which ever you prefer. Also leave your comments on the Blog tell us your two cents to what we write, criticize us tell us what you like and what you want to see in the future. We read each and every comment.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Massaud Airship - more pictures

End of last year we reported about the Massaud - Manned Cloud Hotel if you haven't read our article check back and read it here it also contains a video of the airship. De zeen a design magazine posted a nice article about the airship with a lot more background info on the airship. If the website seems familiar to you, they also published the Strato Cruiser airship concept by Tino Schaedler which we have reported on in November 2007. Check out the de zeen article Manned Cloud by Jean-Marie Massaud here.