This is not a Blimp. It’s a sort of flying Queen Mary 2 that could change the way you think about air travel. It’s the Aeroscraft, and when it’s completed, it will ferry pampered passengers across continents and oceans as they stroll leisurely about the one-acre cabin or relax in their well-appointed staterooms.
Unlike its dirigible ancestors, the Aeroscraft is not lighter than air. Its 14 million cubic feet of helium hoist only two thirds of the craft’s weight. The rigid and surprisingly aerodynamic bodyâ€”driven by huge rearward propellersâ€”generates enough additional lift to keep the behemoth and its 400-ton payload aloft while cruising. During takeoff and landing, six turbofan jet engines push the ship up or ease its descent.
This two-football-fields-long concept airship is the brainchild of Igor Pasternak, whose privately-funded California firm, Worldwide Aeros Corporation, is in the early stages of developing a prototype and expects to have one completed by 2010.
This seems like such a great idea. This kind of craft could replace the transit answers offered by trains and busses for long haul. Since it’s VTOL, it could land at all the little municipal airports, offering milk-run trips that current carriers can’t afford or manage technically. Heck, these could do all kinds of ferry activities around the sound.
How about a shuttle from downtown Seattle to the ski slopes? At 174 mph, that’s half an hour, or less.
If this could be more affordable than air travel, and one might hope it to be more environmentally sound, whole new options for transportation destinations and corridors could arrive.
I can imagine people sitting in traffic along I-5, stuck, watching one of these fly overhead, or even going over twice the speed limit of the ground traffic.
In a place like the Puget Sound where we’re bound by water for so many of our transportation choices, something like this could be very welcome.
An hour to Long Beech from Olympia, instead of 3 or more, seems like it would completely re-vitalize many destinations. But more importantly, that means that roads don’t have to be built, or even maintained. What about creating a landing area at Mt. Rainier, and removing the roads there? One would drive to a place outside, or at the perimeter, and then board one of these air vehicles to make over the forest, to the mountain itself.
One of these could have a milk-run that links all the cities around the rim of the puget sound.
If this were affordable and environmentally safer than air travel now, I could see a complete revolution in the way we travel and where we go.
Plus, I think there would be something wonderfully majestic about the way these take off, travel and land. There might be a little more poetry to these flights. Perhaps a little touch of the river boat …