Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Kite-Glider-Airship

After last nights post about Stephane Roussons Zeppy Airship I had a thought stuck in my head for a long time and I just have to write about it. This is not a news item just a quick thought and a request for feedback. Especially if something similar has been tried before.

So what am I talking about I am talking about an aircraft that unites three different characteristics into one new design that is extremely fuel efficient. The aircraft that I have in my mind unites the features of a kite a glider and an airship.

The airship allows the aircraft to be big but at the same time light, it flies(hovers) without needing any propulsion. The kite can lift up with almost no effort with the wind and can act as a strong sail pulling the aircraft with the wind. The glider can glide downwards over a long distance even into the wind.

Is it possible to build something like that? Can a non propelled aircraft even fly against the wind and achieve any real ground speed or is propulsion needed?


cargoairships said...


The first steerable airship was first flown (no motor) by Dr. Solomon Andrews in 1863!

A modern day concept:

It'd be fun to fly one like Dr. Solomon's, make it designed to catch thermos and all. Put some solar cells and tool around a spell.

Maybe, helium and steam lift, vent the steam at top altitude, glide down, release ballast and fly some more. I'd do it with a parachute!

Anonymous said...

That gravity powered concept was what sprang to my mind too. A nice idea, possibly a little slow?

What about combining the kite with power generation? It could provide thrust and electricity to spin props and could be flown in the jet stream. A hybrid of the Magenn and a kite maybe?

New Scientist ran an interesting article recently on power derived purely from kites:


Subscriber access only but if anyone wants a copy then I have access.

Unknown said...

The kites would have to be in a different air current from the air ship, and I'm sure the control calculations would be beyond human beings. it's a great idea though.

Andreas said...

Thank you for the interesting comments. Scatter it would be awesome if you could pass me the article my Email address is on the Website. I think the idea of an Airship utilizing winds rather than fighting it is a topic that has potential, maybe for a scale prototype in a windtunnel ?
To Mathews comment well if it is beyond human control why not let a computer do it, if it is controllable at all and just needs to be done quickly enough a computer could do it.

Anonymous said...

You can certainly combine a glider and an airship. Here is how it works. The airship has to have a shape that generates lift, a flying wing for example. Then it has to have two gasbags within the envelope which are flexible and which can squeeze each other. One bag contains helium, the other air. When air from outside is pumped into the air bag it squeezes the helium bag and the airship becomes heavier than air. If air is pumped out of the air bag the helium bag expands and the air ship becomes lighter than air. So you start from the ground with the air bag pumped up. Then you vent the air bag and the airship floats straight up to altitude. At altitude you pump up the air bag and can then glide forwards until you reach a low altitude, at which point you vent the airbag and the whole cycle starts over again.
Conservation of energy is not violated because the foward motion while gliding down is effectively powered by the energy consumed pumping air into the air bag. Though I haven't done any calculations I expect this would be a highly efficient way to power an airship, particularly if you recover a proportion of the energy when you vent the airbag. A system equivalent to regenerative braking in a hybrid car could be used. You could also cover the envelope with flexible dye sensitized solar cells and have a highly effcient solar powered airship.

Pretty cool. Why hasnt someone done this already?

Bryan L. Allen said...

See my comment in the previous article about Stephane and his hydrofoil "dogfish."

Per other commenter's observations about a Solomon-style variable-lift planing airship: I'm not sure why no one has build a modern one of these, other than the likelihood that it would be a rather high-cost way to fly slowly, and definitely obnoxious to mix with other air traffic (up, down, up, down, up, down), as well as being darned hard to land with any particular precision.

Anonymous said...

Gravity Aircraft (airship-glider combo aircraft):

Anonymous said...

Check out Dan Geery's unleaded zeppelin video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OvuVD_MqyM

It is an airship that is gliding up. It is a variation of Dr. Solomon's Aereon.

I think one of the easiest ways to make an Aereon would be to combine a DeRozier system (hot air/ helium) with a shape like Dan's or like Festo's air-ray.

The craft would also attain forward motion while gliding up. See Dan's video.

It doesn't necessarily have to be a shape other than a conventional blimp. You would be surprised at how much lift a standard blimp shape can generate.

It could be done. It would be fun.

Viagra Online said...

I have almost the same question that Scatter, what happen with the gravity power, you know electromagnetism and all that stuffs, if you ask me soo many time ago this kind of technology must be in function.

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