Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The return of the airship

The new vehicle set to revolutionise the skies

The return of the Zeppelin: not just a flight of fancy

I've been following the progress of this machine for a couple of years now and it's actually beginning to sound like it's on track for success. The promise of 1,000ft-long airships sailing through the skies again sounds almost too good to be true.

Never mind all this nonsense about it being a "Hybrid Air Vehicle" and a "revolutionary new vehicle" - they can say what they like ("airship has negative connotations" indeed!) it is an airship. OK, maybe nowadays it's better than the dirigibles of 80 years ago, but that's only thanks to new technologies and designs. The direct antecedents of this machine are still the wondrous Zeppelins of the 1920s and '30s. In a way, this is a good example of the ideal I've been talking about in previous posts - vintage ideas and solutions revived with modern equipment (and British equipment and know-how at that!).

Airships may have ruled the skies during the interwar years (and what I wouldn't give to have been able to see a zeppelin in flight!) but now they look to be on the cusp of a proper renaissance and will be put to uses Count von Zeppelin and Hugo Eckener could only have dreamed. Who knows, if this new airship is successful in a cargo-carrying capacity it may herald the restart of a passenger service (not to take anything away from Zeppelin NT who have been offering sightseeing tours in Germany, and elsewhere, for several years now) and a new Golden Age of airships may well be on the cards!


  1. Nice to feel your enthusiasm.
    Alas, in 10 years, Zeppelin has only been able to sell four airships; one destroyed at mast in Botswanna. A company in Japan folded after being unable to profit running a Zeppelin.
    Hybrid Air Vehicles...while an interesting design, would fail if not for military patronage. Their design is not meet for transport of freight.
    This is why: That immense hull is made of very high-tech (spacesuit) material. It is extremely expensive, and cannot be ready to hand in order to make MANY airships. And without MANY.....the freighting idea becomes untenable. These airships are novelties; no more.
    However, if airships are constructed out of inexpensive, readily available aluminum, coupled with high-tech carbon fiber.....then, why then we'd have something!

    We do.

  2. Darling how wonderful the possiblity of a new Golden Age of airship travel being on the cards.
    I have place this on my list of things I wish to do, full vintage dress would have to be the order of the day as always, with champagne cocktails and good company such as yourself.

  3. Darrell,
    Turtle Airships sounds fascinating; I wish you every success!

    I agree, it would be delightful to cruise the skies thus and I hope it is something we can do in our lifetime. It's very gracious of you to solicit my company on such a flight, it sounds idyllic!

    Another great article on the subject from The Daily Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/8252162/The-return-of-the-Zeppelin-not-just-a-flight-of-fancy.html) gives me hope.


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