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Airships

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

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.  Read More

The Solar Ship could be used for a variety of applications - including tourism (Rendered i...

In recent times there's been a resurgence of interest in airships for military and commercial uses as evidenced by Lockheed Martin's High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator (HALE-D) and Hybrid Air Vehicles heavy-lift variant of Northrop Grumman's Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV). Like HAV's design, this concept from Canadian company Solar Ship is a hybrid airship that relies on aerodynamics to help provide lift, and like the HALE-D, it would have its top surface area covered in solar cells to provide energy and minimize its carbon footprint.  Read More

The Hybrid Air Vehicles heavy-lifter in Discovery Air livery

The famous and well documented Hindenburg disaster of 1937, when the hydrogen-filled airship burst into flames whilst attempting to tether to its moorings in New Jersey, killed off the 'lighter-than-air' aircraft industry, as well as 35 unfortunate souls. Since the 1970's however, a determined band of, mostly British, aviation engineers has been battling to design and build a commercially viable 'air vehicle'. Many false starts, experimental craft and research projects followed (funded mostly by the U.S. military) but viability remained elusive, until now.  Read More

Lockheed Martin's HALE-D is launched

With the use of airships for passenger transport decreasing in the early 20th century as their capabilities were eclipsed by those of airplanes – coupled with a number of disasters – they were largely resigned to serving as floating billboards or as camera platforms for covering sporting events. But the ability to hover in one place for an extended period of time also makes them ideal for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance purposes, which is why Lockheed Martin has been developing its High Altitude Airship (HAA). The company yesterday launched the first-of-its-kind High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator (HALE-D) to test a number of key technologies critical to development of unmanned airships.  Read More

The Skylifter airship concept

For decades, fans of airships have been hoping for a large-scale revival of the majestic floating aircraft. Every few years, lighter than air flying concepts come along to raise those hopes, such as Northrop Grumman’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, Skyhook’s JHL-40, and DARPA’s Walrus, which led to the current Aeroscraft ML866 project. Now there's another unique contender to the throw into the mix – Australia’s Skylifter. If it ever makes it to the skies, however, it’s sure to be the source of some bogus UFO sightings.  Read More

Zeppy 3 will shortly sail across a stretch of Mediterranean waters using only the power of...

Preparations are underway for a 150 mile journey from southern France to Corsica in a sail balloon. High flyer Stéphane Rousson is planning to pilot Zeppy 3 across a stretch of Mediterranean waters using only the power of the wind and a curved carbon foil based on the chien de mer by Didier Costes. Gizmag took the opportunity to have a closer look at the new balloon at the recent Paris Green Air Show.  Read More

 Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV)

Not so long ago it seemed that the golden age of giant lumbering airships had gone down with the Hindenberg, consigned to less spectacular roles in research, advertising and as a great camera platform above sporting events... but they're making a comeback. Lighter-than-air aircraft are returning to passenger carrying roles in tourism and in recent years we've seen a new-generation of airships put forward as a cargo-lifting solution (DARPA's Walrus Project) and even as a corporate air yacht (Aeroscraft ML866). Now the U.S. Army is moving quickly to build a hybrid airship weapons system that will act as a long-duration UAV – a very big UAV. The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) will be longer than a football field and stay aloft at altitudes of 20,000 feet for more than three weeks at a time providing an "unblinking eye" for surveillance and reconnaissance.  Read More

The Néphélios, the world's first solar powered airship

A group of French students are getting ready to fly across the English Channel in the world's first solar powered airship. One hundred years after Louis Blériot won the coveted Daily Mail prize of £1000 by being the first to traverse the watery expanse in his 3-cylinder, 25 horse-power XI monoplane, the Projet Sol'r team will take to the skies in Néphélios, a 22 meter long airship capable of cruising at 30-35kph. Gizmag recently talked to one of the project's founders, Arnaud Vaillant.  Read More

HAA is an un-tethered, unmanned lighter-than-air vehicle that will operate above the jet s...

May 1, 2009 The idea of replacing very expensive space based satellites and Aircraft mounted Airborne Warning And Control Systems (AWACS) with stationary platforms inside Earth's atmosphere has been floated for decades. Despite the fact that lighter-than-air vehicles or airships that could fulfill this role have been flying for over 300 years, the idea is only now getting off the ground. Lockheed Martin has been chosen by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for a US$400 million contract to to design, build, test and fly a 1:3 scale model of an airship surveillance and telecommunications platform called the High Altitude Airship (HAA). The full scale HAA would measure 240 ft long by 70 ft in diameter, run entirely on solar power and be able to stay aloft for up to 10 years.  Read More

Magenn's MARS floating wind generator

Wind power is notoriously flighty, particularly at ground level. Most turbine-on-a-post wind powered generators operate at around 20-40% of their rated generation capacity, simply because wind is intermittent and changes direction. But a generator situated 500-1000 feet above ground level would enjoy much more consistent strong wind - which is why the Magenn MARS system makes so much sense. It's a helium-filled rotating airship that spins in the wind on the end of a variable-length tether that also acts as a power transmitter, and it's expected to operate at more like 50% of its rated capacity. Each MARS system will be cheap and portable, which will make them extremely useful in rural, camping and emergency situations. A prototype has successfully been flown in North Carolina. A great idea that makes economic sense.  Read More

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