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New Aircraft is Part Blimp and Part Airplane

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the not-just-a-lot-of-hot-air dept.

Technology 484

An anonymous reader writes "Canton Rep has an interesting article on Ohio entrepreneurs who hope to get their business 'off the ground'. Brian Martin and Robert Rist think they are close to testing a prototype of their patented Dynalifter hybrid. They announced last week that their airship -- part blimp and part airplane -- has been completed, and they hope to conduct a test flight this spring. Martin and Rist hope the Dynalifter will help bring in a new transportation era. They see it as a way to move materials at a lower cost than jets and at a higher speed than ships. From the article: 'They think it could be used in emergency situations, such as Hurricane Katrina, to transport supplies. It might have military uses, such as delivering equipment and supplies to sites that might not be easily reachable.'"

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484 comments

World War II Taught us: (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393553)

The message is clear: Blimps have failed.

Re:World War II Taught us: (2, Funny)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393564)

I guess no one ever said "look it's the Good Year blimp" to you, and then ran off?

Shouldn't it be WW I? (2, Informative)

dakirw (831754) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393592)

Actually, I thought it was World War I that taught us that blimps weren't effective as combatants (bombers). German Zeppelins burned pretty intensely after getting hit. They were only used for long range ocean recon in WW II, right? The Hindenburg incident probably didn't help much either.

Re:Shouldn't it be WW I? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393624)

They burned because they were painted with a substance that was mostly composed of rocket fuel. I think we're a bit past that now.

Re:Shouldn't it be WW I? (4, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393648)

Yes, we're past myths [colorado.edu] .

s core : -1, RC "humor" (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393674)

Just say no to dope!!! [wikipedia.org]

Re:Shouldn't it be WW I? (1)

General Fault (689426) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393738)

Actually, supprisingly they did not just burn up in the sky when hit. Helium is a good flame retardant and will not burn as it is an inert gas. Hydrogen requires at least 3% oxygen to burn. So, when hit they mostly leaked and slowly fell to the ground... It's just that they were so big and slow that they were fairly easy to hit.

Re:Shouldn't it be WW I? (1)

reverend_rodger (879863) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393907)

From what I've heard, part of the problem is that the U.S. wouldn't sell helium to Germany during that time (for obvious reasons, even before we were in the war). So if the blimp uses helium rather than hydrogen, it has a very low chance of catching fire.

Re:World War II Taught us: (5, Informative)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393612)

Blimps have failed.

Tell that to Goodyear, Fuji Film, Met Life, and the vast number of other companies that operate them. And don't forget to mention it to ESPN, ABC Sports, Fox Sports, and all the other networks who use them for their sports coverage.

As to WWII, the blimp was used very successfully [centennialofflight.gov] . To quote: "The United States was the only power to use airships during World War II, and the airships played a small but important role. The Navy used them for minesweeping, search and rescue, photographic reconnaissance, scouting, escorting convoys, and antisubmarine patrols. Airships accompanied many oceangoing ships, both military and civilian. Of the 89,000 ships escorted by airships during the war, not one was lost to enemy action.

Re:World War II Taught us: (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393627)

Don't forget those barrage balloons then that protected London :-)

not really ships though...

Re:World War II Taught us: (1)

my ky is brokn (922451) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393679)

Goodyar oprats at a loss on all thir blimps. Thy hav statd that th advrtising valu compard to tv ads is ssntialy worthlss. Sur thy ar good for sports casting and publicity but as transport mthods thy ar too slow to b of any valu.

Re:World War II Taught us: (2, Funny)

hamburger lady (218108) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393815)

looks lik you nd a nw kyboard. your "" ky is brokn.

You could say (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393871)

What fits in a spot at right of W (portward of R) on my comp's manual word input isn't working right now.

Re:World War II Taught us: (4, Informative)

irablum (914844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393771)

Blimps have failed.

Tell that to Goodyear, Fuji Film, Met Life, and the vast number of other companies that operate them. And don't forget to mention it to ESPN, ABC Sports, Fox Sports, and all the other networks who use them for their sports coverage.

As to WWII, the blimp was used very successfully. To quote: "The United States was the only power to use airships during World War II, and the airships played a small but important role. The Navy used them for minesweeping, search and rescue, photographic reconnaissance, scouting, escorting convoys, and antisubmarine patrols. Airships accompanied many oceangoing ships, both military and civilian. Of the 89,000 ships escorted by airships during the war, not one was lost to enemy action.

I think the true meaning to the phrase "Blimps have failed." is that blimps have been replaced by airplanes and helicopters for the things which they were originally designed for. First, I don't see a blimp truly replacing a cargo 747 due to the fact that you can't run a blimp at 600 MPH. Even with engines all over it, they are talking about replacing trucking and not aviation, so they cannot mean moving faster than say 150 MPH.

The reason a blimp can't replace a helicopter is that blimps are much more susceptable to high winds. Any time the winds are too high, the Goodyear blimp stays home, and a helicopter takes its place. The reason for this is simple. wind resistence of a very large sack of bouyant gas is much much larger than a rotating turbine. Now, on clear days with little wind, a blimp would be much much more economical to operate than an airplane or a helicopter.

Ira

Re:World War II Taught us: (2, Informative)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393688)

Yeah they're a thing of the past, the future is getting into space, oh hang on:
http://www.jpaerospace.com/ [jpaerospace.com]

Just a Blimp? (4, Informative)

dakirw (831754) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393565)

After reading the article, it looks like it's just a blimp with more engines, and not really an airplane. The article doesn't provide much info about the speed, range and payload capacity of this "hybrid", so it's hard to say how cost effective it would be.

Re:Just a Blimp? (3, Interesting)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393599)

My impression was that it was a true compromise, it wasn't as fat as a blimp, so could go faster and was less susceptable to cross-wind; but also had some of the fuel economy advantages of a blimp. But lost in speed compared to a try aeroplane and was less fuel economical than a full blimp.
Also it would have limited hovering capabilities not quite up to that of a helecoptor or true blimp...

Re:Just a Blimp? (3, Informative)

General Fault (689426) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393787)

Actually, it seems that they are using lift to generate a forward vector. This is not a new idea, however it has not been used with great sucess yet. The idea is that a blimp can move forward the same way that a glider can move forward. Only with a blimp, the forward motion can be generated by both lift and gravity. When the blimp is lighter than air, it trades lift for forward motion. When the blimp is heavier than air, it trades altitude for forward motion.

Re:Just a Blimp? (2, Interesting)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393853)

I wonder if this lends its way to a new propulsion scheme?
mode 1) {when you're high enough}Take the gas in the bag and compress it into internal cylinders so that you loose lift - then glide as above.
mode 2) {when you're too low} Release gas from cylinders into bag providing lift.

Or is that what you're describing above?
I also wonder if waste heat from the engines is used to warm the gas to provide extra lift?

Re:Just a Blimp? (3, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393601)


There's a lot more info to be found regarding the Dynalifter technology here [ohio-airships.com] .

Re:Just a Blimp? (3, Insightful)

dakirw (831754) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393687)

Thanks for the link. From the company's description, this concept has two main advantages - it's heavier than air, using wings and such, so problems with ballasting and the need to release the buoyant gas are reduced or eliminated. The second advantage is that it can supposedly land like an airplane, with wheels, that eliminates docking/landing issues of traditional airships.

However, the concept summary notes that it is designed to take crosswinds of up to 30 knots when unloaded. I'm wondering if that's sufficient - wouldn't that potentially limit the operational use of these airships in poor weather conditions?

Re:Just a Blimp? (5, Informative)

daraf (739813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393834)

Airports have multiple runways (and land both ways on one runway) to mitigate the effects of wind. So, for example, when the Santa Ana winds are blowing at LAX, all flights take off on runways 7(L/R) & 8(L/R) instead of 25(R/L) & 26(R/L), so they are going into the wind. When airports are built, the runways are oriented relative to the most common winds in the area, so the crosswind component is relatively small. A 30kt crosswind component is enormous, and found very rarely.

Re:Just a Blimp? (1)

daraf (739813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393906)

And because I'm picky, I'll have to reply to my own post (this is what happens when you post in a rush) -- LAX has runways 24(R/L) and 25(R/L), and 6(L/R) and 7(L/R).

Re:Just a Blimp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393824)

There's a lot more info to be found regarding the Dynalifter technology here.

Did you google that all by yourself or did someone help you?

Re:Just a Blimp? (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393803)

Actually, it's more like a REALLY light airplane. The craft itself is heavier than air, but only a bit heavier. It's buoyancy makes it easy to get it off the ground at low speeds, and easy to keep in the air. That's why it only needs the small "fins" you see for wings.

Of course, that's all what the brochure says. We'll have to wait to see how it performs in the real world.

Have they solved the ballast issue yet? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393842)

(Since I haven't been able to read TFA due to the /. effect, I will have to make a few assumptions...)

Over time many people have tried reintroducing the zeppelin class airship (CargoLifter, Zeppelin NT, etc.). They have mostly failed to come up with a convincing airship design for moving heavy cargo long distances. The problem is not engine power or raw lift capacity, it is ballast.

For an airship to be able to fly, its lifting capability must be higher than the weight of the airship itself and any cargo (d'uh!).

Lift can come from engines (propellers or jets directed downwards), pockets in the airship body filled with Helium and lift created by the body of the airship flowing through the air (liftbody).

Trouble is:

If you use Helium for lift capacity, you have a problem when you unload the cargo. You either have to add X tons of ballast or new cargo, equal to the weight you just unloaded, or reduce lift by venting Helium. At the current price for Helium that is a really, really expensive option.

If you use engine power to provide lift, your fuel costs and logistics of the thing will kill you. Try providing several hundred metric tonnes of lift using conventional engine technology. Hint: A fully loaded Saturn V moon rocket weighs in at around 2,900 metric tonnes. Scale engine power as needed. 1/10th the engine power of a Saturn V is still a very impressive piece of engineering.

If you use the shape of the airship fuselage to provide lift as it is pushed through the air (liftbody technology), you are in trouble at takeoff and during landings. If the airship has a reasonable cruising speed at altitude, then you will be missing enourmous amounts of lift at takeoff. Once in the air, how do you land without reducing your airspeed? Modern airplanes reshapes the airfoil profile of their wings via the use of flaps and slats to balance lift with airspeed.

I have never heard about a satisfying solution to this very serious problems with these so-called heavy lifter next-gen airships. Maybe because there isn't one...?

Methinks someone is fishing for government or corporate funding for a dead-end project.

AC.

Re:Just a Blimp? (1)

hevenor (931854) | more than 8 years ago | (#14394035)

Right, and that thing those other boys from Ohio made was just a kite with more engines

The blimp's revival? (3, Interesting)

Doom bucket (888726) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393566)

Makes perfect sense to me. With advanced technology and more experience then say, the people who made the hindendburg, I'm sure we could make it work better this time.

I wonder how long it will take other formerly taboo technology to come around... I'm not all that afraid to have a nuclear reactor in my backyard(My neighbors would disagree)

Re:The blimp's revival? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393706)

I too would like a nuclear reactor in my backyard. But it has to be fusion! I don't wanna see evidence of any radiation coming from it.

Re:The blimp's revival? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393715)

When do you want me to say it? Oh fine I'll just say it now.

the people who made the hindendburg, I'm sure we could make it work better this time!!

Re:The blimp's revival? (1)

gnud (934243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393922)

Well, personally I don't mind the plants as much as the waste.
Would you want a nuclear waste treatment plant in your back yard?

I want to believe! (2, Insightful)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393574)

BBDs are real?! [slashdot.org]

Better link/picture - mostly a blimp (5, Informative)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393576)

Better link/picture of the dynathing - mostly a blimp

http://www.ohio-airships.com/Old/Default.htm [ohio-airships.com]

Re:Better link/picture - mostly a blimp (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393684)

Scary, looks like it will self-destruct if you breathe on it wrong.

Hope it is sturdier than it looks...by a lot ;)

It's a faster blimp, although prototype seems to be missing alot of wings and engines....

Call me on the next prototype please.

Re:Better link/picture - mostly a blimp (1)

Disoculated (534967) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393909)

Most likely it looks rickety because it's half-inflated. Airships do slowly leak their helium, especially when under pressure. There's no point in keeping it that full when it's getting moved around the runway.

An airpimp? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393585)


Reminds me of my last United Flight (-1, Offtopic)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393596)

When they served Chili for the dinner...

Patent Infringement Potential? (5, Funny)

xoip (920266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393608)

Good thing the patent has expired on the Zeppelin

How about helicopters? (0, Redundant)

method77 (943066) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393613)

'They think it could be used in emergency situations, such as Hurricane Katrina, to transport supplies. It might have military uses, such as delivering equipment and supplies to sites that might not be easily reachable.'
huh... don't helicopters help in these situations?

Re:How about helicopters? (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393764)

They have a limited range and a limited flying time, whereas with airships the hard part isn't staying up but coming down.

As it currently stands, supplies have to be shipped towards your target destination by more coventional means that require either a road, a port or a runway in a workable condition, get as close as possible, and then offload everything from the truck/ship/plane and reload it all into a helicopter to move it the last leg of the trip. An airship, on the other hand, could carry supplies cross-country (or even across oceans) all the way to the intended destination without having to offload its cargo along the way.

They also have the potential to carry heavier loads than helicopters.

Re:How about helicopters? (1)

GecKo213 (890491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393931)

Helicopters have a large down daft that can cause problems. Blimps don't seem to have that problem.

OBLIG MP Ref (3, Funny)

daivzhavue (176962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393615)

Its not a balloon...its an AIRSHIP...

"IT IS BALLOOOOOOOOOON!!!!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393873)

"IT IS BALLOOOOOOOOOON!!!!"
- Chief Wild Eagle from F-Troop tv series

Re:OBLIG MP Ref (1)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393977)

What should we do?
Maybe we should ring the government?
But this _is_ the government!

Deforming body (5, Insightful)

Winterblink (575267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393628)

Why not have a deformable body? Flatten it out so it can travel at higher speeds, then whe it slows down, puff it up and it can be more blimpy.

Re:Deforming body (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393810)

That sounds like the engineering involved would be rather complicated. Current airship-type designs basically have a light, rigid frame inside to support their envelope. If you're going to make that frame delibrately deformable, you're going to have trouble keeping it from deforming in an undesirable fashion when it's under stresses (such as crosswinds) - there would need to be a lot of engineering behind it, and the frame would probably end up being a lot heavier. Needless to say, for an airship, you generally want to be as lightweight as possible so you can lift cargo instead of just lifting the ship itself.

A rigid airframe is much simpler, cheaper, easier, and sturdier.

Re:Deforming body (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393894)

A rigid airframe is much simpler, cheaper, easier, and sturdier.

Unless that is part of the innovation, a way to build a deformable structure cheaper, easier, and sturdier?
I'm reminded if the willow tree vs an oak in the storm - the oak may be stringer, but I'm taking bets as to which structure will most likely survive the stress of the storm...

"More blimpy"? (2, Interesting)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393979)

What exactly is this quality of "blimpiness" you want to improve? The important characteristic of blimps is their buoyancy without cargo, and blimps become more buoyant if they carry a higher volume of gas or if they have less structural mass. Blimps are designed to look "puffed up" only because that shape reduces the structural mass necessary to support a given volume of gas, and a shape-changing structure would be more massive still.

Could it be used for passengers? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393639)

I will most likely have a series of long flights ahead of me in a month(Munich to Pittsburgh and then a few days later Pittsburgh to Osaka), and while I know I am too early for this tech, I have been looking for an alternative to flying because I HATE airplanes. First off, they waste tons of fuel and the environmentalist in me hates that, secondly for me they are the most uncomfortable things ever. I am over 6'2(185 cm) and since I'm not rolling in the dough I can only afford coach. Of course, a few days ago when I was flying from Seattle to Amsterdam, what does the guy in front of me do right after takeoff? Reclines his seat back as far as he can.
What are the options besides flying for quick(define quick as can make a cross-ocean trip in a weekend) alternatives to flying that are both fuel efficient and don't do irreversible knee damage?

Re:Could it be used for passengers? (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393676)

What are the options besides flying for quick(define quick as can make a cross-ocean trip in a weekend) alternatives to flying that are both fuel efficient and don't do irreversible knee damage?

And cheap?

Cheap, comfortable, fuel efficent. Pick 2.

-everphilski-

Re:Could it be used for passengers? (4, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393759)

From my quick research a 747 gets around 100 miles to the gallon per passenger when completly full. Lets say its 75% full so 75 miles to the gallon. So flying versus driving alone is hugly economical, of course if you pack 4 people into a car it becomes more economical, though the waste of time driving isn't nessesarly worth the savings.

Re:Could it be used for passengers? (1)

MasterShake (617668) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393783)

Airplanes actually have lower fuel consumption per passenger mile than most cars when you are travelling alone. Between 50 and 100 miles per gallon compared to between 22 and 45 for most cars. See the following link:

http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=48 121 [google.com]

Re:Could it be used for passengers? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393798)

"What are the options besides flying for quick(define quick as can make a cross-ocean trip in a weekend) alternatives to flying that are both fuel efficient and don't do irreversible knee damage?"

Well, there is Teleportation; But we don't understand the technology to do it yet.

Re:Could it be used for passengers? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14394015)

How about staying home? Its INCREDIBLY fuel efficient, is instantaneous, and unless you have some very rude roommates has ZERO chance of the knee injuries you fear so much.

Send your tickets to me, I'll be happy to endure the inconvenience and pain of a trip to Europe in your stead.

BTW when Zeppelins were in use, it usually took 4 or 5 days to cross the Atlantic in one.

Re:Could it be used for passengers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14394023)

Well, go to osaka first! Take the ICE from Munich to Koln, then to Moscow, then the trans-siberian to Vladivostok. You can then take the ferry to Fushiki [bisintour.com] (July to october only) and then take the train to osaka. It should take just over a week. Getting to pittsburg might be more problematic. You might want to go via an airline with more legroom, or get a set on the bulkhead row.

Military use? Unlikely (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393650)

It might have military uses, such as delivering equipment and supplies to sites that might not be easily reachable.

I know that was just marketing speak, but still, military use is the one thing I do not see happening for this flying thing. It's big, it's slow, it's target practice for the other side. As for getting stuff to 'not easily reachable' places... well, such as? Specifically, where could a blimp get to more easily than a helicopter?

Re:Military use? Unlikely (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393701)

Heavy deployments... helicopters have very limited payload mass over a very short range. You would deploy one of these over a longer range distance over a relatively safe area (IE... from the US to a foreign zone, not passing over an engagement area). You generally don't send stuff over in 1 trip, it generally gets sent overseas in a cargo plane, then hopped to a base, then airlifted via helicopter or sent via jeep (whichever makes more sense). This would probably fill the first role the best.

-everphilski-

Re:Military use? Unlikely (2, Interesting)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14394037)

Some military use is likely.

I could see these used as high altitude portable communication platforms near hot spots. I could see a fleet of UAVs being controlled from one of these. And these would fit the traditional blimp role of coastal surveillance very nicely.

Wish the web site wasn't slashdotted.

I would think a heavier than air blimp would be easier to land.

I have the impression from the few pics and diagrams I've seen that the blimp has a lifting body shape and the "wings" are primarily control surfaces. I'd be interested in reading the specs.

Re:Military use? Unlikely (1)

crimoid (27373) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393730)

Helicopters have limited range and can't carry that much weight. While I wouldn't want to fly a blimp in hostile airspace I can clearly see these being used over friendly airspace. The lack of a need for a super-long runway would mean than even small military bases could be supplied directly via the air.

Re:Military use? Unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393749)

Specifically, where could a blimp get to more easily than a helicopter?

Any place that foliage would play havoc with the rotors and not puncture the envelope on a blimp?

Seriously, this might be useful for transport of large items in rear areas where there's some security. It's not like the
US has to worry about air superiority in most places it operates ;)

Forward operations for this would presumably be limited to roles in which it would enjoy some "legal" protections, like
transport of the wounded, delivery of aid to non-combatants, etc.

Re:Military use? Unlikely (1)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393758)

High altitudes. Helicoptors, especially those heavily laden with cargo, have a practical ceiling for how high they can fly. The record is on the order of 40,000 feet. We have been sending balloons into the fringes of the atmosphere for decades. Whether or not a heavily cargo-laden balloon could do this (or why you'd want to), I don't know. I can see a use for an airship for lifting space vehicles into a very high altitude before firing the main rockets. Dunno if it'd be any cheaper or safer than ground-based.

Re:Military use? Unlikely (0, Flamebait)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393760)

A restock of ammo does alot of good when the blimp was delayed two weeks because of weather.

Re:Military use? Unlikely (2, Interesting)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393799)

"Specifically, where could a blimp get to more easily than a helicopter?"

They can fly higher and longer than helicopters.

But in general, the perfect use for airships is AWACS. They don't have to come down to refuel periodically (they'll need food more often than they'll need fuel), so that's one less major hassle for an aircraft carrier crew to deal with.

It would also work well for similar work over land, and might work well as an anti-balistic missile laser platform.

Right now (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393653)

Some admin is reading /. and realizes that's his webserver and is thinking FUCK.

Right now his boss is burning up his pager/cellphone.

I really would have liked to RTFA, but seeing as how the /. effect has taken hold.
From teh write up, it is supposed to deliver aid/supplies to places that don't allow for easy access by conventional means. Hrmmm seeing as how there is no where in the world this thing can go that a conventional helicopter or plane can't, well the plane can't land, but that's what cargo parachutes were made for. What is the point of this?

This seems more like some way to con investors out of money than real world practical application much less any kind of R.O.I. for the investors.
The thing will still be plagued by what ultimately lead to the demise of derigable travel in the first place, the ability to operate in iffy weather. Convention aircraft aren't so much constrained to this anymore as planes can fly over affected weather areas at higher alt than the weather, and choppers just wont go up.

Re:Right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393724)

There are plenty of big heavy items that are unsuitable for airdrop due to fragility and too heavy to be lifted by helicopter. In either case lighter-than-air transport may be more affordable due to fuel savings.

Re:Right now (1)

magnanimous cowherd (705822) | more than 8 years ago | (#14394006)

Some admin is reading /. and realizes that's his webserver and is thinking FUCK.

Right... Like the admin has any bandwidth left to read /. with.

The Past Perfect Future Tense? (0, Flamebait)

n8k99 (888757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393662)

When do I get my Flying DeLoren?

I hope their new blimp... (1)

Like2Byte (542992) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393664)

doesn't burn up as fast as their servers!

Re:I hope their new blimp... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393775)

Shut up, Carl.

Pop! ssssss... Crash! (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393678)

"Since the terror attacks on our homeland, a need has developed for superior, cost-effective aerial patrolling vehicles for our cities and national borders. Dynalifter® Patrollers are quieter, less expensive, and can fly three times as long as patrolling helicopters. Patrollers can "walk the beat" looking for trouble and call in helicopters for tactical response."

Why is it that inventions always have to have some military/security use in order to be deemed cost-effective or useful? That being said...

I also wonder what would happen if someone shoots at it repeatedly? Would it just pop and fall to the Earth? It must be moving slowly, making it an easy target.
The potential for transporting goods seems like its best use, although I don't think the trucking industry/lobby is going to like it very much. I guess we will see when it is tested in 'real world' scenarios.

Re:Pop! ssssss... Crash! (3, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393867)

Why is it that inventions always have to have some military/security use in order to be deemed cost-effective or useful?

Because that's a good way to get the government to pay part of your R&D costs.

I also wonder what would happen if someone shoots at it repeatedly? Would it just pop and fall to the Earth? It must be moving slowly, making it an easy target

Of course...no one in the entire development stream ever thought of an airmachine, at least partially for military use, ever getting shot at.
Not once. They will thank you for reminding them of that possibility. Now they'll have to change the entire design.

The potential for transporting goods seems like its best use, although I don't think the trucking industry/lobby is going to like it very much.

Too bad. Either they can a) suck it up and adapt, or b) build a fleet of their own and compete.

I can't get to the article... (3, Interesting)

TedTschopp (244839) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393680)

Re:I can't get to the article... (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393713)

Yes they are very similar.

Re:I can't get to the article... (1)

eyebits (649032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393852)

Conceptually similar. Physically they look different.

Article Content (1, Funny)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393683)

Warning: mysql_connect(): Too many connections in /home/httpd/vhosts/cantonrep.com/httpdocs/id_array .php on line 3

Warning: mysql_query(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL-Link resource in /home/httpd/vhosts/cantonrep.com/httpdocs/id_array .php on line 8

Warning: mysql_fetch_row(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL result resource in /home/httpd/vhosts/cantonrep.com/httpdocs/id_array .php on line 17

Warning: mysql_close(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL-Link resource in /home/httpd/vhosts/cantonrep.com/httpdocs/id_array .php on line 25

Warning: mysql_connect(): Too many connections in /home/httpd/vhosts/cantonrep.com/httpdocs/get_stor y.php on line 29
Could not connect: Access denied for user: 'therep_advert@localhost' to database 'cantonrep01'

at least they didn't mention terrorism as a usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393729)


Nice that hurricane Katrina was mentioned as a usage when logistics and lack of equipment wasnt the problem it was poor management with its cronyism, unqualified staff, and massive bureaucracy that slowed the rescue, having a glorified balloon on standby wouldnt of helped the refugees, it would of helped the executives of this project though, that new condo doesnt come cheap especially if it has a pool and hot tub

everytime a new product comes out in USA its use always seems to be justified by the latest disaster of the month/year, i wonder how the victims of such acts feel about all these products being tacked onto their misery, anything for a buck huh

Here's a name for it.... (3, Funny)

HotBBQ (714130) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393740)

Airplane + Blimp = Airpimp

Congratulations on a job well done (1)

sagneta (539541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393746)

I'd like to extend my congratulations to all those slashdot denizens that jumped instantly and in unison onto the Canton website listed in this article. They never knew what hit them.

Too obscure? (4, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393772)

"The fools! They should've built it with 7,001 hulls! Oh, when will they learn!"

Re:Too obscure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393851)

obligatory futurama quotes are soooo 2005

A Beowolf cluster of them.... (-1, Troll)

MasterC (70492) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393791)

They think it could be used in emergency situations, such as Hurricane Katrina, to transport supplies.

Now if we could just get a Beowolf cluster of them then Mother Nature won't stand a chance!

Seriously though, how is this thing a hybrid? It's a blimp with (possibly? Dunno, article is /.'ed) bigger engines to move it faster? How is that a blimp/airplane hybrid?

Courtesy of m-w.com:
Blimp = a nonrigid airship
Airplane = a powered heavier-than-air aircraft that has fixed wings from which it derives most of its lift

This hybrid is a nonrigid airship that is lighter-than-air and wings that don't produce its lift. So...exactly how's it a hybrid?

More like a souped-up blimp. That's all?!?

The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed (2, Interesting)

Josh Booth (588074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393794)

This sounds similar to the Deltoid Pumkin Seed [johnmcphee.com] , another airplane/blimp hybrid. It was more of a helium-filled flying wing that was tested in the seventies.

Obligatory Final Fantasy Airship Reference (1)

NetRanger (5584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393797)

Does each airship come with a pilot named Cid?

RA2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393800)

YES!!! now the blimps in red alert 2 would actually be usefull!! (takes about 10 minutes to cross a map) ....... if only

Hindenburg (5, Insightful)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393814)

Another thing I don't get about why people don't like dirigibles is the Hindenburg disaster. Every time something comes out about blimps, every Tom, Dick, and Harry screams "Hindenburg." It doesn't make sense that one crash would doom an entire, civilized way to travel. When passenger jets are mentioned, no one screams "Lockerbie" or "9/11" as a reason why we shouldn't fly in airplanes anymore. They just go back to the drawing board and figure out how to make it safer/better. Why are dirigibles held to a different standard? It would be really nice to see people break out of groupthink on this one.

Another junk patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393817)

The article is slashdotted so the following is just conjecture on my part.

The idea of filling an airframe with helium is obvious. It had occured to me when I was a child. I'm sure it has occured to a lot of other people as well. The trick is to build something that works economically. For the time being at least, finding a way to make money from something obvious is not patentable.

It's not part anything (0)

gelfling (6534) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393823)

It's an airship. Period.

The web page is coming in now... (5, Funny)

phpWebber (693379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393827)

Oh, it's crashing...oh, four or five hundred kilobytes per second, and it's a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. There's a white screen, and there's database errors, now, and the browser is crashing to the desktop ...Oh, the humanity, and all the sysadmins screaming around here!"

Emergnecy uses = very few (1)

stienman (51024) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393828)

They think it could be used in emergency situations, such as Hurricane Katrina, to transport supplies.

Until some idiot shoots at it.

-Adam

Hybrid???? (2, Interesting)

erbmjw (903229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393846)

Ummm what part of this airship is plane like? 2% ... maybe 5% on a good day? How does that makew this a hybrid? It's a blimp with tiny wings that are control surfaces; because it seems to me that the amount of lift the wings could provide, would be insignifigant. I have seen concepts of a delta wing blimp - that could reasonably be called a hybrid ariship-plane

Who remembers the "Aereon"? (2, Interesting)

cayle clark (166742) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393870)

Back in 1963 (!) the great documentary writer John McPhee published The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed, telling how, to quote from the editorial review on the Amazon book page [amazon.com] ,
...in the 1960s, an unusual band of inventors, engineers and investors ... created the Aereon, a strange, wingless hybrid airplane/dirigible. The Aereon--the Deltoid Pumpkin Seed-- promised to be a safe workhorse of the skies, capable of carrying the payload of entire freight trains with minimal cost. ... McPhee ... makes us wonder why this promising technology hasn't been perfected.
From the pix of this thing, it is a long way from the elegance of the "Aereon".

Remeber details of Katrina (0, Flamebait)

SirLanse (625210) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393876)

After Katrina lots of highways were covered in debris. You could not get a truck into many places. Choppers are fast, but it cost a bundle to get a lot of payload someplace. (When you have massively stupid dems like LA and NO have, you have to be able to cover for them quickly. MS, AL, FL and TX did not as many problems.) They do not have any specs because they only have a small prototype. Go to dynalifter.com [slashdot.org] and see.

Cargolifter? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14393887)

Reminds me of the failed Cargolifter http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargolifter [wikipedia.org] . The company intended to build a large Zeppelin for heavy transports to destinations unreachable by ship. It proved to be infeasible. The design had to compromise payload versus ceiling, and had severe operating limitations (e.g., high winds). At the same time, the market (such as oil rigs in remote locations) was too small to support the endeavour.

Blimp/Airplane AND Web site can't go supersonic (1)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393888)

The website has been /.'ed, so I assume the blimp/airplane moves about as fast at their web site currently is. I.e. not quite supersonic like this B-1 Bomber exhibiting how Jet Noise is the Sound of Freedom! [komar.org]

The new incarnation of the "Deltoid Pumpkin Seed" (4, Interesting)

wintermute42 (710554) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393929)

The idea of hybrid lighter than air lifting and an aerodynamic hull has been around for a while. In his 1963 book The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed [johnmcphee.com] essayist and journalist John McPhee covers the story the the Aereon, which was an early avitar of the dynalifter. There was a brief resurgence of interest in this aircraft design during the oil crisis in the 1970s. It now seems to be back once again now that oil has risen in price.

One of the things that those pushing this design may not be mentioning is that increasinly helium is both scarse and a strategic resource. Helium is actually "mined" from underground domes where it has been trapped (I assume formed from radioactive decay). If fleets of airships were helilum based, the price of helium would seen rise to the point where the airships were no longer cost effective. The alternative is hydrogen, but as the Hindenburg demonstrated, hydrogen has its own problems. These issues could be the reason that after over three decades this idea has not caught on.

This is essentially the DARPA "Walrus" Project (1)

astroroach (943264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393984)

http://www.darpa.mil/tto/programs/walrus.htm [darpa.mil] There is definitely military potential, since DARPA already has a project based on the same concepts. "The Walrus program will develop and evaluate a very large airlift vehicle concept that is designed to control lift in all stages of air or ground operations including off-loading of payload without taking onboard ballast other than air. Unlike earlier generation airships it will generate lift through a combination of aerodynamics, thrust vectoring and gas buoyancy generation and management and for much of the time, it will fly heavier than air."

More curious (1)

MythoBeast (54294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14394032)

This is interesting, but the links seem to leave out a lot of very important specifications. Things like approximated air speed, load limitations for the various proposed sizes, fuel efficiency, takeoff and landing airstrip length and whatnot. It would be great if they could be used to get a lot of our trucks off the road, but if the fuel efficiency is worse per pound of freight then it won't make sense. I doubt it'll ever match railroad efficiency, but it should have more flexibility.

I would be particularly curious to see if you could combine it with thin-film photovoltics to create a self-powering electric
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