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Return of the Zeppelins

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the death-from-above dept.

News 239

kfg writes: "While the world has focused its aeronautic attention on the Helios solar powered plane the Zeppelin NT has carried it's first paying passengers on a one hour "tourist" flight in Germany, the first Zeppelin to do so since the infamous Hindenburg disaster. This comes after its return from the Paris Airshow where it was an unqualified hit with attendees. I can't really tell you why but this news tickles me more than any other tech news in ages. Sometimes the oldest tech is the coolest. Oh yeah, tickets are $280 American." This is the baby brother of the Cargolifter model; CNN has a brief story.

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These billionaires are fucking wusses. (3, Interesting)

_Ludwig (86077) | more than 13 years ago | (#2112245)

I swear to god, if I was one of these eccentric billionaires, I would put my fun money towards building an enormous rigid airship instead of these sissy aluminum foil looking fly-around-the-world-in-a-balloon projects. I mean, who gives a shit about recreating 18th century technology (but much more visually boring) to do some Society for Creative Anachronism mission the biggest achievement of which is using your corporate muscle to secure right-of-passage through hostile airspace because if you don't catch the autumn jetstream you're fucked? Fuck that shit. These so-called anomalistic Richard Branson types haven't got even the imagination of a marketing exec. Stop wasting your whimsical millions on boring non-telegenic bullshit. I'll show you how it's done: Biggest zeppelin ever, and not plastered with a bunch of stupid ads for stupid shit. Just a plain grey floating aerolith the size of three Nimitzes. It wouldn't appear at such predictable events such as the Super Bowl or the Great Hasidic Chinatown Traffic Jam of 2003 (which, inconvenient as it was at the time, wound up leading to major breakthroughs in game theory, chaos theory, metatheology, and Cargo-Van-Fu), but rather as a massively imposing spirit borne upon the winds of change. Once the shadow of the rigid airship was nothing more or less than an implacable signifier of Empire; soon -- very soon -- it shall transcend such primitive jingoistic motivations to become a constant reminder of how much better an inconceivably wealthy person I would be compared to all these Donald Trump dipshits we've got polluting our worthy meritocratic ideal today. Believe you me, the first ones up against the wall... no, scratch that. Don't put holes in a perfectly good wall. As a matter of fact, someone loaded that brass shell casing with skill and love and care -- it would be an insult to their craftsmanship to waste it on those shitheads. Let's just let the masses have at them with the homemade machetes that look so crude yet perform so effectively. You're next, Giuliani.

Re:These billionaires are fucking wusses. (1)

radioradio (133483) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158254)

I am totally surprised that no one has pointed out the severe love humans have for hanging out in in floating objects (balloons/zepplins/blimps/etc..). Celine wrote a great book about his coming of age and dealing with a crazed balloonist inventor for a mentor. try "death on the installment plan" and begin to realize how nice you have it. xoxo, virgil [] photos of, um, rock bands.

Bond airship (0)

Oakey (311319) | more than 13 years ago | (#2112818)

How about an airship like the one in Live and Let Die? I think that was the movie, where Christopher Walken was the bad guy? Anyway, ya know, you could drop people out of it from great heights at the push of a button. Anyway, on a more serious note I remember the first time I saw one of these airship things. I was in the back yard, must have been about 6 and I heard a very loud drone. I looked up and this huge airship flew over, it couldn't have been that high up, maybe 200-300feet (there is an airport a mile or so away from my house). I was actually quite scared, it appeared huge and I ran in to get my dad but by the time he'd got up off his arse it was long gone.

The Power of Bad Media (3, Insightful)

YIAAL (129110) | more than 13 years ago | (#2113179)

Zeppelins have always made sense economically, and esthetically. But the fact that one is carrying passengers for the first time since FDR's first term shows the power of bad publicity. More people would have died in an airplane crash, but the powerful footage of a burning airship, together with the overwrought commentary of the on-the-scene journalist, has poisoned their rep for years.

Can you imagine... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2113384)

... a freaky foursome with Ann Coulter [] , Carly Fiorina [] , and Kim Polese [] ?

Thank you.

--Patrick Bateman, Esq.

It's a *mini* Zeppelin (2, Informative)

Rushuru (135939) | more than 13 years ago | (#2113562)

I attended the paris air show in June, and saw a flying demonstration of the zeppelin.

I had read stories and saw pictures of the original zeppelins, and I was almost as excited as the rest of the /. crowd at the idea of seeing a resurrected Zeppelin. I must say that I, and a big part of the rest of the crowd, got really disappointed when we actually saw it. It's a mini zeppelin, barely 80 meters long. The Hindenburg was 250M meters long, that makes the Zeppelin NT a 1/3 replica!

In a nutshell, it was not really exciting. It looked very much like the average airships which are used for advertising purposes at big sport events.

putting "mini" in perspective Re:It's a *mini* (1)

khuber (5664) | more than 13 years ago | (#2154988)

Yeah, but the Hindenburg was huge! Look at
these stats.

Lengths of Aircraft

747-400: 232 feet (71m)
777-300: 242 feet (74m)

goodyear gz-22: 206 feet (63m)
zeppelin nt: 246 feet (75m)
hindenburg: 804 feet (245m)


Re:It's a *mini* Zeppelin (1)

husemann (15965) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155625)

Have a look at CargoLifter [] --- that'll be bigger than the Hindenburg. However, it's for cargo only. But still pretty impressive.

Zeppeling design... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2119277)

Hope they didn't use Hydrogen this time, I designed the original H2 model and most times it burned in flames.

Sincerely, Mike Bouma

Re:Zeppeling design... (2, Informative)

tarawa (215365) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155187)

The Hindenerg didn't crash because of the hydrogen ignited, but because he outer covering was extremely flamible which was ignited by an electostatic discharge. PBS had an excellent documentary on it and here is a link [] to Q&A with the researcher who determined this.

Re:Zeppeling design... (1)

Kenyaman (458662) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158251)

If you'd read the article before posting comments on it, you'd have seen that they are filled with helium, although recent research suggests that Hindenberg didn't burn because of the hydrogen, but because of a flammable skin.

NT?!?! (5, Funny)

Bubblesculpter (234656) | more than 13 years ago | (#2119278)

Sounds like trouble!!

Zeppelin NT?

Now we get the Blue Blimps of Death...

it'll crash even more now....

WORMS!! (1)

Bubblesculpter (234656) | more than 13 years ago | (#2154488)

I really hope they make sure that WORMS can't chew through the blimp material.

...just what we need, a Code Red Blimp Tragedy

Re:NT?!?! (1)

gabriel_aristos (265988) | more than 13 years ago | (#2154770)

I suppose even after a couple of Service Packs, they still won't be able to guarantee a certain level of uptime?


Re:NT?!?! (1)

chegosaurus (98703) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158044)

> Zeppelin NT?

> Now we get the Blue Blimps of Death...

All the problems will be ironed out in Zeppelin 2000.

Re:NT?!?! (2)

doctor_oktagon (157579) | more than 13 years ago | (#2119175)

... and seeing it's a big balloon, it will also need to be patched! *groan*

Patches (1)

Bubblesculpter (234656) | more than 13 years ago | (#2135111)

All the need for patches is un-intentional...

The blimp started out being a little hot air ballon, and they kept expanding upon it to turn it into a full passenger carrying blimp.

As a result, the current blimp is a monster built over an old and tiny framework.

They should have built it all from Scratch
To avoid having to Patch

Re:Patches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2158155)

This is the best tech pun I've read in a long time.

No worry (0)

ExCEPTION (102399) | more than 13 years ago | (#2163289)

It runs fine with Service Pack 3, but those patches on the ship sure don't look good.

The first NT joke (0, Redundant)

Gaccm (80209) | more than 13 years ago | (#2119280)

So, who wants to bet on how long till it crashes? i give it 3 weeks uptime.

Lets just hope they don't mix the Zepllin CE, and version ME with the version NT, or things will just stop flying note to modorators: this was the forced stupid NT joke(s), now everyone else who does lame NT jokes can be called redundant,

You knew this was coming. (0, Redundant)

DataGrok (81077) | more than 13 years ago | (#2119282)

Windows crashed terribly. And Microsoft created Windows NT.

The original Zepplein crashed terribly. And now we have... the Zepplein NT.

This dosen't bode well for the stability of the aircraft.

Huh? (1)

dadams (9665) | more than 13 years ago | (#2119796)

Hasn't John Bonham been dead for, like, 20 years now?

STFU (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2120642)

Will you fucks stop with the fucking Windows NT jokes.. get over it.. it's OLD... fucking slashdot geeks...

Hey everyone! Please /. and troll this site! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2127344)

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If the /. effect doesn't kill them outright, then logging in lets you submit trouble tickets. So, spam them with brilliant trolls about Jews, goat sex, niggers, WHATEVER! Make their tech support team a living hell so they won't be able to answer any tickets at all -- it's no big loss, 'cause that's how they ALREADY are!

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Slashdot, News for Nazi's? (-1) (450152) | more than 13 years ago | (#2127787)

Yet another /. post slighting the suffering of the victims of the Holocaust by not mentioning that terrible unique event in history (for which all whites are to blame) in this article about the second world war Zeppelin.

Re:Slashdot, News for Nazi's? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2154899)

Wrong war.

Re:Slashdot, News for Nazi's? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2158019)

shut up kike

No noise might be the keyword (2, Insightful)

rorboz (515616) | more than 13 years ago | (#2131422)

I am living near lake constanz, on the swiss side, however, and, what's more important, I am living even closer to the regional airport. This Zeppelin issue might become important because the swiss and german governement are depating about a flight route policy in the swiss-german border region. This is because a lot of people (germans and swiss) are feeling that jets are making to much noise.
Now, if such a zeppelin is making less noise and can be used to transport people closer to their destinations, well that might be bad news for the local airport.

Re:No noise might be the keyword (1)

it's a culture thing (472974) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155264)

well that might be bad news for the local airport

I'm not sure that it would. Blimps do need to be teathered when loading & unolading and a reasonable amount of space to do this in - while for the cargo shipments I can imagine blimps hovering over a building and winching the load down this puts them in a dangerous position if there is a small amount of wind and couldn't be used for passangers.

Plus you have to have some sort of infrastructure in place and airports would be a logical place. Especially since you're less likely to have to worry about overhead power cables, telephone lines or buildings to bump into. Also what about customs controls?

I could see them becoming like a bus service with a lot more collection/drop off points than airplanes but not as the equiv. of a taxi service.

But anything which reduces noise pollution can only be a good thing.

In related news ... (1)

666johndoe666 (515622) | more than 13 years ago | (#2132328)

... Zepplin NT is looking for new mascots. It is rummored that Alvin has it in the bag.

Hmm ... (4, Interesting)

Hagmonk (201689) | more than 13 years ago | (#2132611)

Okay. Judging from the pictures, it doesn't look like it seats a great many people. How competitive is it going to be when placed against a 747? Obviously not with respect to speed, but it has to have at least a few advantages, otherwise people won't take to it.

Oh yeah - NT? New Technology? I'm told that's the same expansion as the NT in Windows NT. *sniff sniff* I think I smell a lawsuit.

"People may buy your Zeppelin NT instead of Windows NT by mistake, so we're launching this lawsuit." Don't laugh - they'll do it.

Re:Hmm ... (2)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 13 years ago | (#2115685)

Oh yeah - NT? New Technology? I'm told that's the same expansion as the NT in Windows NT. *sniff sniff* I think I smell a lawsuit.

Officially, NT and CE (and presumably XP) don't mean anything - they are intended to create "impressions", for instance, CE was Compact, Consumer, Ummm... some other things.

Of course, even people *at* Microsoft will tell you what NT and CE mean, but the official line is that they mean nothing. Heh.


Re:Hmm ... (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 13 years ago | (#2119174)

NT? New Technology? I'm told that's the same expansion as the NT in Windows NT

NT in WinNT in fact comes from the notion in 386 processors of Nested Threads. x386 and over have an NT register.

I think the rest came from Marketing

uninterestingly enough the splash screen for 2k says "Based on NT Technology"

so 2k is based on New Technology Technology

It would be cool if... (0)

FyRE666 (263011) | more than 13 years ago | (#2134913)

They had transparent floors...

It isn't competing against 747a. (3, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 13 years ago | (#2157816)

Totally different markets.

The nearest market would be the helicopter market or pleasure boat market.

Cargolifter OTOH, will compete with 747s for freight cargos.

Re:It isn't competing against 747a. (1)

The Terminator (300566) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155163)

Or remote areas for Z'NT

The Cargolifter also will not compete with freight planes but with the people moving exceptionally big loads like reactors for chemical plants, constructional parts up to 160 t and so on.
It will move them at around 80 mph and deploy them to every point around the world from house to house without the need for infrastucture (roads and the like). It will only need the possibility to tow it down with 40 t force while loading and unloading.

Re:Hmm ... (2, Informative)

it's a culture thing (472974) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158020)

it doesn't look like it seats a great many people. How competitive is it going to be when placed against a 747?

I seriously doubt it would ever be set in competition against the international airlines, however as an alternative to things like paddle steamers, canal boats etc it may gain some market share with the more mature, middle class segment - imagine a candle lit dinner at 10,000 in a 1930's style blimp. *grin*

Comparing a 19 seat blimp to a 747 is like comparing Windows to Unix - they have different markets, different cultures and different ways of looking at things. If they market it right they could be on to a winner, especially as they have first mover advantage and the barriers to entry are quite high (complying with FAA regulations, design, testing, maintanance etc).

Maybe Microsoft'll buy a couple and replace the GoodYear blimp?

Not a chance (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2120784)

Americans have no class.

Return of the luxury airship? (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 13 years ago | (#2138260)

I think within 15-20 years we will see luxury airships carry 125-150 passengers on 3-4 day flights. Would you want to cruise at about 35-50 knots about 3,000 feet altitude around the Hawaiian Islands? I'm sure a lot of people do (including me). :)

With the use of non-flammable helium and the use of modern aerospace materials for airships, such an airship is well with the range of current technology. The Zeppelin NT points the way for to build such a thing with the time period I mentioned above.

19 passengers only? (2, Interesting)

osolemirnix (107029) | more than 13 years ago | (#2154701)

It seems to me this ship should be able to carry more than 19 passengers, which would make for a far reduced price. The cabin looks awefully small.
Really, over 200$ for a small roundtrip?

I can fly to any destination within Europe for that (from Friedrichshafen).

Re:19 passengers only? (2, Informative)

M_T_Toaster (515319) | more than 13 years ago | (#2115526)

I thought the SkyCat [] looked a more promising project, the proposed prices for the cargo looked good.
Predicted transatlantic freight costs were:
$1 a kg Skycat 40 hrs
$3.50 /kg normal air freight
60 cents/kg boat 10 - 25 days

Re:19 passengers only? (3, Informative)

marcsiry (38594) | more than 13 years ago | (#2131869)

This is a small airship, obviously meant as a demonstrator. Their site says the concept can scale from here without much trouble.

Airships wouldn't replace jet aircraft, but they could certainly supplement them as regional transportation. Despite their large size, they can land in a relatively small amount of space... the Goodyear Blimp's landing field [] , here in Southern California, is the size of a large store parking lot. Couple that with their quieter (than a jet) operations, and you have a great short hop commuter aircraft between smaller markets (Akron to Pittsburgh, for example) or as a transfer vehicle between metropolitan airports and bedroom communities that would otherwise be a multihour bus or van trip away.

Re:19 passengers only? (2)

krokodil (110356) | more than 13 years ago | (#2120902)

> transfer vehicle between metropolitan airports
> and bedroom communities that would otherwise
> be a multihour bus or van trip away.

The site does not mention top speed of this
airship, but I doubt it would be much faster
than highway speed.

Lorries without roads (1)

Confused (34234) | more than 13 years ago | (#2116589)

> The site does not mention top speed of this airship,
>but I doubt it would be much faster than highway speed.

As far as I remeber, that is good enough. The main purpose of these thngs would be to provide cheap heavy lifting capability in areas where there are no usable highways or waterways. Think of them as lorries that don't need roads.

For short distance transport in well developped areas, trains make more sense, for long distances regular planes are faster.

Re:19 passengers only? (2, Interesting)

nanoakron (234907) | more than 13 years ago | (#2126015)

I personally think they'd fill a neat little niche for luxury air travel - your own rooms, maybe even a buffet/dining area and about a lounge with a piano tinkling away in the background. I think I'd love it to be honest.....I mean, when you think of going for an ocean voyage, you don't strap on 1000s of Hp of engines to the back of a speedboat and mashing your way across the atlantic at hundreds of knots, instead you take a luxurious, leisurely cruise across. We might even see planes becoming things of the past - only to be used by businessmen and people in a rush whilst airships start to take the great unwashed masses at greatly reduced cost... just a thought. -Nano.

Re:19 passengers only? -- It's really Zeppelin XP (1)

anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) | more than 13 years ago | (#2135110)

It's supposed to be like helicopter rides... Every seat is a window seat, I guess, so you're paying for the window XPerience.

Zeppelins or Helios - the same use. (2, Interesting)

Saggi (462624) | more than 13 years ago | (#2154781)

Some time ago I heard about a company, who would attempt to provide unmanned zeppelins as low-cost satellites. A zeppelin could be stationed above a city at very high altitude, where it would be powered by solar energy. From here it would be able to act as a perfect relay station for mobile phones or other types of radio networks. This is a part of the same concept the Helios airplane is trying to achieve.

The idea is really good for several reasons. Especially the low prices would make it useful and making it more easy to deploy. At the same time the altitude would be less that a satellite, making the radio transmitters being able to reach it at a much lower power. But also the advantages that it could be landed for maintenance, upgrades etc. would make it compatible to a satellite. And pollution would be less than a rocket...

The list goes on and on.

In my opinion this type of use is much more interesting that being able to provide tourist tours (not that I think tours are a bad idea).

Dead web server? (1)

Richard Bannister (464181) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155071)

All of is unavailable right now...

The Slashdot effect is one thing, but when the web pages are physically removed it's quite another!

must be you (1)

khuber (5664) | more than 13 years ago | (#2154780)

I get get to them from here just fine.


Re:Dead web server? (2)

Dr_Cheeks (110261) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155646)

It may not be the web server - remember that there's lots of stuff between you and that server. It could well be a router that's swamped from our slashdotting, which would make the server look like it wasn't there even if it was. Alternatively, it could be a problem with your ISP's connection to Europe, yadda yadda yadda.

Or, it might depend on your browser; IE just says that the page is unavailable if the server is /.ed or down or you typed the address wrong.

Re:Dead web server? (1)

Richard Bannister (464181) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158093)

It's back up and running now, although it was definitely dead earlier today (all pages gave 404s).

FWIW - my ISPs link to Europe is largely irrelevant, given that I'm in fact in Europe :-)


Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2155196)

Hi! I think the Zeppelin NT name is very fortunate, because it allows even unwitty idiots like myself to make dumb jokes about Microsoft. Hell, I don't even have to read the rest of the comments to notice that there are already 48 other comments saying the same thing, only funnier. I can just post this stupid comment and then tell my friends about it later. We will all get a good chuckle!!!!

Coming soon! (0)

zerosignal (222614) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155322)

Zeppelin 2000 Professional

Re:Coming soon! (1)

Bubblesculpter (234656) | more than 13 years ago | (#2138045)

Zeppelin 2000 Professional is okay for small amounts of people and crew.

It is not recommended for mass transportation of many people for long distances...

...they suggest Zeppelin 2000 Passenger Server for your bulk transportation needs.

Features include:

  • Multi-Threaded Passenger Loading
  • Multiple destinations per blimp
  • 64 bit customer addressing
  • Separate cup-holders for each passenger
  • Automated Back-Up Protection (restore full crew and passengers to Last Known Good State in the event of any 'unknown features')
  • Ability to repair and install Patches during flight without the need for landing.
  • 24/7 Customer Support

Of course, most of Slashdot would rather fly on Debian Derigibles - This new and exciting form of air transportation is recommended only for the aeronotical elite who prefer to build their own blimps. Using a network of peer-to-peer open source docking bays and home-built blips, you can get a hair-raising trip around the world for free!

Plus you'll be laughing at all of those paying outrages amounts of money for just a little spin in the air with NT.

Cool! (1)

foistboinder (99286) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155363)

But who can replace John Bonham?

Helium? (1)

TechFire (203886) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155408)

Personally, I would much rather pay money to fly in a hydrogen-filled airship with added safety precautions. For example, they could design the cabin so it could glide upon detachment from the "gas bag" (anybody know the technical term for it?). In case of a problem, the cabin could just detach, turn a bit, and escape. Also, they could add some kind of monitoring system in case of a fire. Remember, in the original Hindenburg accident, people on the ground realized something was wrong long before any of the passengers did.

question..... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2155628)

how does a zepplin land to take on passengers? ballast? anchors?

(too shy to post with a sig)

Re:question..... (1, Informative)

mobets (101759) | more than 13 years ago | (#2115527)

They pump more air in it. I know blimps are split into a few section inside (went to see one of the goodyear blimps on a field trip). This increases the density of the helium. It then becomes too heavy to float.

Re:question..... (0)

olivieradam (162258) | more than 13 years ago | (#2126520)

Perhap's re-compressing the gaz will do it ?
Electric powered compressors ?

Re:question..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2155438)

NOO, they have many propellors an many sides and can start and land like an helicopter. It is an real zepelin, no blib, which is just an ballon in form of an zeppelin P.S: Could someone please mod down the wrong answers to this question?

Re:question..... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2157857)

yes it uses ballast. they round up a bunch of yids and stick them in the hold, toss em overboard when they need to reduce weight.

Re:question..... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2114470)

Don't foget the gypsies and other undesirables.

Re:question..... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2138624)

and homosexuals

Re:question..... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2155192)

and flamebaiters...

And I thought (1)

mac123 (25118) | more than 13 years ago | (#2157807)

And I thought software demos had a lot of hot air.

Safety (2)

Dr_Cheeks (110261) | more than 13 years ago | (#2157858)

After seeing all those aeroplane disaster movies (especially Final Destination and Cast Away) and having my fear of flying go from nothing to almost irrational, this is very appealing. But that cabin's teeny - this isn't exactly suited to economy passengers. Anyone got any ideas what the chances of me getting around in one of these without going broke are? How long till they become common enough for regular commercial flights?

BTW, I still use aeroplanes, but only out of convenience (if I could afford to go by boat [hah! Like I'll ever afford that!] I would).

Re:Safety (2)

camusflage (65105) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158373)

I think we'll see zeppelins come back as commercial transport about the same time the telegraph becomes the primary means of long distance communication again. All the speed of a bus without the false sense of security versus flying. Combine that with the sheer size necessary to float any passenger cabin, let alone one supporting coach class, and you have something destined to be no more than a novelty.

The Hindenburg accident wasn't due to the hydrogen (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2157859)

For those who didn't know, it was apparently caused by the coating they used on the fabric. Turns out the reflective coating was *very* similiar to thermite. Static build up + thermite = nasty accident

Personally I'm glad to see the zepplin fly again. Especially given my affinity for steampunk.

Re:The Hindenburg accident wasn't due to the hydro (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2131421)

And most of the fatalities weren't from burning, but from jumping out. The people who stayed inside the airship walked away.

Re:The Hindenburg accident wasn't due to the hydro (2, Interesting)

pyat (303115) | more than 13 years ago | (#2139533)

Another point is that only about 1/3 of passengers died. Could you imagine getting 2/3 of passengers out of a 737 if it caught fire in the air on the approach to the runway?

Re:The Hindenburg accident wasn't due to the hydro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2135107)

Some historitiens told, that it was not of the fabric, but because of the new color of the fabric, which was electrostatic and *flammable*. The nazis had commanded to use the color, that looked better, as they misused the zeppelins as propaganda.

Re:The Hindenburg accident wasn't due to the hydro (3, Informative)

JudTaylor (455716) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155064)

Here is a link to a RealVideo entitled CORRECTING HISTORY: Hydrogen and the Hindenburg [] , including explanation by Addison Bain, retired NASA scientist.

Re:The Hindenburg accident wasn't due to the hydro (2)

Dr_Cheeks (110261) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155362)

Wouldn't the hydrogen have made at least some contribution, what with it being flammable and all? And if helium had been used, would it have had any fire-fighting effect (i.e. like CO2 or halon), or would it's lack of density have just meant it all rose straight up when the ship caught fire w/o any real effect?

Still, your point is very interesting - I'll be sure to mention it at some point in the future.

Re:The Hindenburg accident wasn't due to the hydro (3, Informative)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155645)

To be more specific, the doping material on the canvas covering used on the pre-World War II Zeppelins as a way to reflect heat and keep out moisture was a combination of aluminum powder and nitrocellulose.

It was a NASA engineer (who knew that aluminum powder and nitrocellulose are propellents in solid rocket motors) that discovered this fact from looking at a piece of the Hindenberg's canvas covering that managed to survive the crash. He noticed that the stuff burned exactly like solid rocket fuel, and using modern material analysis deduced the doping compounds I mentioned above. In short, the Hindenberg was a flying bomb waiting to happen.

It should be noted that the Zeppelin company did its own internal report (completely in 1938) that noted the doping compound's penchant to burn quickly, but the Nazi government quickly supressed the findings.

Zeppelin NT? (1)

Ambush (120586) | more than 13 years ago | (#2157929)

...the Zeppelin NT...

Somehow I wonder if calling it NT is a good thing. I mean, is this one going to go up in flames or succumb to a fatal BSOD?

What I want to know is... (1)

Jin Wicked (317953) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158001)

When will someone make a Final Fantasy style airship? It couldn't possibly be that complicated...most of them seemed to be just wooden cabins in the shape of a small boat, with propellers and a big air sack providing the lift. I'm sure it wouldn't cost that much, relatively speaking...not much more than a blimp or a plane... maybe do this as a promotion or something? There are hobbyists with hot air balloons...

Damnit, I want my airship!

Hindenberg and the Death of Airships (3, Insightful)

Catmeat (20653) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158107)

People assume the Hindenberg caused airships to be abandoned. But even if the accident had never occurred and WW2 had never happened, airships would have definately died out in the 40's. The reason? Well the Hindenberg had 61 crew and could carry a maximum of 72 passangers. With that kind of ratio between people paying you fares and people you have to pay wages to, making it pay was always going to be tricky. Plus airships where hugely expensive to build. For example, the gas bags where made of a stuff called goldbeaters skin which is part of a cow intestine. You get roughly 1 sq.ft. from each cow so you can imagine how much it would cost to glue together several million of those with hopefuly leakproof seams.

By the late 30's, flying boats where already carrying passangers across the Atlantic. When land planes that could fly this far came along, airships would have had it. An 40's aircraft would have carried about the same number of passangers. Be twice as fast, only needed about 5 crew and would have cost about an order of magnitude less to build. You just can't argue with that.

London takes to the shelters (1)

jack deadmeat (515264) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158167)

"Oh shit", say Londoners, as German Zeppelins take to the skies.

Solar (4, Funny)

earthman (12244) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158209)

They should give the thing electric engines. They should cover the top half with solar cells, add something to store the engergy in (the fuel cells they are going to put on helios), and a small diesel generator in case all of that is not enough. Then it would be much more NT than it is now.

Sure, and wait another 10 years. (2)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 13 years ago | (#2134914)

The airship market was utterly devastated by the Hindenberg tragedy. For 70 years, nobody's beeen able to think of an airship without thinking of the film footage of the ship burning and falling out of the sky.

It has literally taken *70 years* to even begin to recover and we are even now, no where near the level of sophistication that the ships were in those days.

However, if you're interested, there's CargoLifter and Advanced Technologies who're pushing now:

and of course Zeppelin:

Re:Solar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2158099)

Zeppelin NT is a lot more mass to move than Helios. The small amount of power created by the solar cells wouldn't add much power. However, they would add a lot to the cost.

Zeppelin Product Catalog (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2158210)

Zeppelin 3.1: The first really popular Zeppelin. Brought Zeppelin technology to the masses. However, they would explode spectactulary several times a day, incinerating all passengers. Manufacturer claims "Safest Zeppelin yet!!"

Zeppelin for Workgroups: Allowed rudimentary communications with other Zeppelins in the area, so their pilots could call and say "Oh my God!! I'm being burned alive!!!" Manufacturer claims "Safest Zeppelin yet!!"

Zeppelin 95:Much hyped successor to Zeppelin 3.x series. New 'easy to use' control panel resulted in many Zeppelin 95s floating out of control, as their pilot's didn't think to look under 'Start' to shutdown. Manufacturer claims "Safest Zeppelin yet!!"

Zeppelin NT 3.51:Industrial strength Zeppelin, filled with new and improved 'Helium' gas, which is designed to not incinerate its passengers twice a day. However, customers are deterred by the 'retro-styled' control panel, and sluggish handling with gondolas of the day. Manufacturer claims "Safest Zeppelin yet!!"

Zeppelin 98:Same as Zeppelin 95, but with only one choice of inflight movie channel, and the video screen is stapled to the passenger's faces so they can't look at any other inflight movies even if they want to. Still explodes regularly. Manufacturer claims "Safest Zeppelin yet!!"

Zeppelin NT 4.0Addresses speed concerns of Zeppelin NT 3.51 by integrated the gondola control panel into the actual airframe itself. Occasional H2 impurities in the airframe result in spectacular incineration when the gondola control panel sometimes short circuits. Manufacturer claims "Safest Zeppelin yet!!"

Zeppelin ME: No-one cared about this one. Manufacturer didn't bother wasting time claiming "Safest Zeppelin yet!!"

Zeppelin 2000:Not too bad an airship...however, none of the seats or fittings from any of the previous Zeppelins can actually be installed without tweaking. Some pieces of equipment don't fit at all

Zeppelin XP:If you get out of your seat, you have to buy another ticket. If you cross your legs, you have to buy another ticket. If you get out the in-flight magazine, you have to buy another ticket. Continually radios back to Zeppelin headquarters about what you have in your suitcase. However, the gondola decor is really nice looking, and only a few beta testers have been incinerated alive so far.

Re:Zeppelin Product Catalog (3, Funny)

pimpmaster (324278) | more than 13 years ago | (#2135109)

Where's Zeppelin IV: Their best album with Black Dog and Stairway To Heaven. Also comes with a Red Snapper for the groupies.

what about (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 13 years ago | (#2113178)

Coverdale/Page Aerospace's "lighter than air ship."
Looks like a Zepplin, flies like a Zepplin, but man, it ain't a Zepplin!

Zeppelins in New York (2, Interesting)

Chancer (246051) | more than 13 years ago | (#2154811)

I saw a documentary the other day about the design and construction of the Empire State Building. Apparently it was supposed to be just 86 storeys, but in order to be taller than the Chrysler building they added a mooring mast for 'lighter-than-air-ships' to the top...

they even showed artists impressions from the time...

unfortunately the plan was abandoned as people were unwilling to walk the floating gangway from the gondola to the top of the Empire State Building ;-)

Re:Zeppelin Product Catalog (2)

q-soe (466472) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155103)

Actually normally i dont get off on the anti MS jokes in every post - but this one is funny - well worth the rating.

If at first you don't succeed.... (0, Redundant)

Anthony Boyd (242971) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158241)

Zeppelin NT? What, are they trying to crash these things?

Die Internationale (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2158242)

Wacht auf, Verdammte dieser Erde,
die stets man noch zum Hungern zwingt!
Das Recht wie Glut im Kraterherde
nun mit Macht zum Durchbruch dringt.
Reinen Tisch macht mit dem Bedranger!
Heer der Sklaven, wache auf!
Ein nichts zu sein, tragt es nicht langer
Alles zu werden, stromt zuhauf!

Volker, hort die Signale!
Auf, zum letzten Gefecht!
Die Internationale
Erkampft das Menschenrecht

Es rettet uns kein hoh'res Wesen
kein Gott, kein Kaiser, noch Tribun
Uns aus dem Elend zu erlosen
konnen wir nur selber tun!
Leeres Wort: des armen Rechte,
Leeres Wort: des Reichen Pflicht!
Unmundigt nennt man uns Knechte,
duldet die Schmach langer nicht!

In Stadt und Land, ihr Arbeitsleute,
wir sind die starkste Partei'n
Die Mussigganger schiebt beiseite!
Diese Welt muss unser sein;
Unser Blut sei nicht mehr der Raben
und der machtigen Geier Frass!
Erst wenn wir sie vertrieben haben
dann scheint die Sonn' ohn' Unterlass!

Other famous zepplins (2, Redundant)

G-funk (22712) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158244)

The soon to be release Microsoft Zepplin XP goes faster, the seats are better, but at 30,000ft you've gotta call Microsoft or it deflates and you crash to your horrible death.

Apple Zepplin X looks the best of them all, but the steering controls are weird, and there's no tvs in first class.

Zepplux, the grass roots version, goes faster, stays up in stronger winds, but you've gotta sit on milk crates the floor :-)

Re:Other famous zepplins (2, Funny)

TeVi (128093) | more than 13 years ago | (#2114468)

Hmm I thought you have to inflate the Zepplux yourself before you can fly it ;-)

Re:Other famous zepplins (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2158145)

Apple Zeppelin X looks like a giant cough drop lozenge. With Zeppelux you may have to sit on milk crates to start, but if you have Debian Zeppelux, you can use the apt-upgrade command to get leather captains chairs.

Wired Article (4, Informative)

it's a culture thing (472974) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158341)

There was an article [] in Wired [] magazine the other year about this. It seems the US government controls about 80% of the worlds reserves of helium, which is of course nonflammable but due to the tensions of the 1930's refused to export to Germany leading to the use of hydrogen instead.

Of course the interesting point is the supposedly hugh amounts of helium on the Moon, any excuse for a trip I guess!

On another note: I'm currently waiting for a delivery of a new Server system - which is stuck in a traffic jam, if only these blimps were available now we could have real blue sky computing 8)

Re:Wired Article (2)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 13 years ago | (#2154605)

They should use hydrogen. It's cheaper, safe (contrary to popular belief) and gives far better performance.

The Hindenburg exploded not because it had hydrogen in it, but due to a big screwup in the doping of the skin (aluminium powder == rocket fuel; add iron oxide == thermite; add combustible hydrocarbons for added excitement!)

Re:Wired Article (3, Informative)

GregWebb (26123) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155402)

Also add improper electrical insulation. The skin charging up isn't necessarily a problem, so long as it discharges evenly. It discharged when the mooring rope hit the ground, BUT some panels didn't because they weren't properly grounded to the airframe. You then have a potential difference between panels covered in pretty much rocket fuel and lots of fire.

Whoops. Whoops almighty.

Re:Wired Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2158203)

Some of the panels weren't sealed properly to each other. Those small gaps allowed electrical arcs to be created as it flew through the bad weather at Lakehurst and picked up static electricity.

Re:Wired Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2158256)

Not just Helium in the Moon. It's Helium-3, an isotope. It's exciting because many researchers say this would be the perfect fuel for a fusion reactor. Yet another reason to get into space.

Another mode of transportation. (1)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158368)

See Budapest by Blimp [] .

relay stations (1, Insightful)

jlemmerer (242376) | more than 13 years ago | (#2158393)

While the Cargolifter is certainly a great thing for lifting huge payloads, i think that smaller, unmanned zeppelins could also be used as relay stations for say, world wide cell phone coverage. they can climb to great altitudes and, in contrast to a balloon, can head in any direction thanks to motor power. On the other hand side they are - at least as far i know - cheaper than the NASA aircraft.

Re:relay stations (1)

KH (28388) | more than 13 years ago | (#2155619)

It's a shame when I have moderator points, there is something I would like to comment :(

Anyhow, during the WWII, the US used blimps to host radars to detect approaching U-boats on the Atlantic coast. So, your idea does not seem to be too far fetched.

yet again (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2158791)

I get to break the news' reply virginity
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