Ed Schweppe (edschweppe) wrote,
Ed Schweppe

The FAA isn't sure what to call it ...

but it's pretty cool, nonetheless. From today's Boston Globe:
There was one thing about flying planes that always irritated Dan Nachbar, a pilot with 23 years of experience. "The view is great," he said, "but the noise is awful."

The solutions he would mull all had drawbacks. A hot-air balloon is at the whims of the wind, and an electric plane would never lift off with the weight of batteries needed to power it.

"I started thinking, what can carry more weight and needs less power?" he said. "The answer is a blimp."

Nachbar's solution could be seen soaring high above a field on a cloudless morning last month: a 102-foot blimp designed with co inventor Michael Kuehlmuss to resemble a bee.
Except it's not really a blimp (which, by definition, does not have a rigid structure). As near as I can tell, this is a hot-air collapsible dirigible: it's got ribs to give it structural strength, the ribs can fold up for storage, and it uses hot air for lift (rather than helium or hydrogen).

And it might even be affordable - Skyacht Aircraft is aiming at a price of somewhere between $100k and $200k, "cost-competitive with a single-engine airplane".
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