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New record claimed for highest airship flight

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November 3, 2011

A view from JP Aerospace's Tandem airship, at its record-breaking altitude of 95,085 feet ...

A view from JP Aerospace's Tandem airship, at its record-breaking altitude of 95,085 feet (28,982 meters)

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On October 22nd, just a day after the first manned flight of an electric multicopter took place in Germany, California's JP Aerospace achieved an aeronautical feat of its own - it broke the record for the world's highest airship flight. Remotely controlled from the ground, the all-volunteer group's Tandem twin-balloon airship reportedly ascended to an altitude of 95,085 feet (28,982 meters). That's almost four miles (6.4 km) higher than any airship has gone before.

JP Aerospace's Tandem class of airships are fairly spartan, consisting of two balloons mounted at either end of a central keel frame, and two six foot (1.8 meter) -long propellers, each driven by a separate electric motor - those propellers are specifically designed to work in the thin air present at high altitudes.

The aircraft used in last month's flight weighed 80 pounds (36.3 kg), including its balloons. As is the plan for all Tandems, it gained altitude using the lift of its balloons only. After making its way through turbulence from 40,000 to 60,000 feet (12,192 to 18,288 meters), the airship eventually reached its cruising altitude, at which point its motors were remotely turned on. A pilot on the ground then guided it through a series of maneuvers until eventually one balloon burst, at which point the other balloon was intentionally released, and the airship drifted back to the ground with the help of five parachutes.

"The big aerospace firms have been trying to do this for decades, spending hundreds of millions of dollars," said John Powell, President of JP Aerospace. "We've spent about $30,000 and the past five years developing Tandem."

The Tandem is intended to function as a workhorse aircraft. It could serve as a launch platform for small research rockets, and perform various duties for JP's proposed Airship to Orbit program, in which large V-shaped airships would travel from Earth's upper atmosphere into space.

Some of the record-breaking flight can be seen in the video below.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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4 Comments

impressive

Bill Bennett
3rd November, 2011 @ 08:16 pm PDT

This was a great first flight for a small company with limited funds and they certainly achieved a lot more than Lockheed Martin did with the first flight of their Hale D high altitude airship.

Regards JB (Airship & Blimp Consultant and Gasbags lighter than air comedy:

3w dot airship dot me)

Trevor Hunt
4th November, 2011 @ 05:08 am PDT

AWESOME JOB !!!!

Leonard Foster Jr
4th November, 2011 @ 09:22 am PDT

RE: Rovert Von Tnuh.

LTA design is much more complex than mocking the birds. That's why its such a challange yet conqoured.. it's doesn't take alot of money to achieve greatness, it takes just enough of everything. Fine line between under engineering and over engineering and in my opinion. I build /maintance and pilot a 71meter aerostat, that's 600,000 cubic feet of volume and longer than 747 with 22,000 pounds of free lift for the last 6 years every day in the most extreme Enviroment and I have a little something up my sleeve for everyone. Asking myself.. How do you make this huge craft like extreme Enviroment, how do you turn drag in to propulsion, how do you displace the atmosphere? I know LTA and I must say.. As JP has done an amazing job achieving what they have. There still just playing with weather balloons.. Those balloons will get there on there own. What they demonstrated is the ability to manuver with propulsion and communicate with there bird.. Good Job JP.

Sincerely,

Jason Palazzolo " JP "

JPLAZ1912
4th November, 2011 @ 02:24 pm PDT
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