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Pass notes No 2,750: the airship-As oil runs out, they could be making a comeback

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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-23-10 08:56 PM
Original message
Pass notes No 2,750: the airship-As oil runs out, they could be making a comeback
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/23/pass-notes-...

Pass notes No 2,750: the airship

As oil runs out, they could be making a comeback

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 23 March 2010 19.30 GMT

...

So airships really exist? I thought they were dreamed up by Hollywood, like jetpacks or Sandra Bullock's cheekbones. They've been gracing the skies in one form or another since 1784, when the Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard fitted a hand-powered propeller to a balloon. They're nowhere near as popular as they were in the 1930s but they are still being made for the military: the US navy runs the four-year-old MZ-3A, while the Thai army has just taken delivery of the one-man Sky Dragon, at a cost of 7m.

So why are they in the news now? They may be about to make a comeback as oil starts to run out, according to Oxford University's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. They may be too slow for most passengers, but not for freight. One airship could carry nine times as much cargo as a 747-400F, using far less fuel.

But why can't I hop on a dirigible next time I want to go to New York? There are companies that offer sightseeing flights in the US, Germany and Japan, but the industry has never recovered from the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. A zeppelin that had just crossed the Atlantic burst into flames over Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36.

Are they still a fire hazard? Not now they're full of helium rather than hydrogen. Airship lovers say they are safer than planes even if you shoot one, it will just slowly drift down to earth.

...
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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-23-10 09:21 PM
Response to Original message
1. K & R
It's a form of transport that should never have been "retired".

I posted several times about this maybe three years ago, when the first new bunch of airships were being designed and financed. I don't just think they'd be good for freight, a lot of people would enjoy flying this way.

--d!
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-23-10 09:32 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I'd love to fly in an airship
However, it's a much more "sedate" pace than our society has come to expect.
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flyingfysh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-23-10 09:33 PM
Response to Original message
3. They wouldn't even be that much of a fire hazard with hydrogen
The main problem of the Hindenburg was that the paint (made with aluminum powder) was highly flammable. The ship was basically painted with thermite. There was a "Mythbusters" episode about this. The flames you see in Hindenburg newsreals are not hydrogen. Hydrogen flames are practically invisible. The flames are from the flammable paint.

Besides, we may have to resort to hydrogen for airships. Helium is non-renewable, and is getting very scarce.
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-23-10 09:40 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. As I recall...
The Mythbusters episode concluded that the hydrogen was the primary source of combustion.
http://mythbustersresults.com/episode70
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-23-10 10:35 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Yes, but a ship without a flamable skin won't burn so readily.
You could even use a vacuum if you had the right materials.
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pscot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 12:41 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. So you'd go down in invisible flames
Nice. Terminal, but not gaudy.
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Kolesar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 12:39 PM
Response to Original message
7. USS Los Angeles, 1927
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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 02:02 PM
Response to Original message
8. And you thought they'd gone away!
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