Airships have had a major public relations problem since the infamous Hindenburg explosion that rocked the world back in 1937.
But it’s finally time to put any safety concerns aside for lighter-than-air transportation. The blimp is finally getting a 21st century overhaul: Seattle-based startup Egan Airships is working on what looks like an ingenious idea for taking modern day aerospace engineering technology — and strapping it to a reinforced helium-filled pouch.
The end product: the “Plimp,” or “plummet proof blimp.”
The Plimp is essentially a cross between a range of different aircraft: it has two stubby wings like an airplane, electric propellers for upward and forward thrust like a drone — and of course a massive body filled with helium to stay airborne. And it’s capable of vertical take off and landing, or VTOL, unlike conventional airplanes.
For now, we’ll have to content ourselves with a small prototype — first shown off in 2017 — that can only carry a payload of 5 pounds, for twenty miles, at 30 mph (48 km/h).
But Egan wants to scale things up for the Plimp’s next iteration: the Model J. The Model J has far more impressive specs: it can carry up to 10 people for up to five hours, with a range of over 300 miles. And with a reduced payload, it can travel an impressive 1300 miles.
The potential uses for the Model J are endless, from homeland security recon missions to surveying agriculture and crop loss prevention. Or just some plain old advertising, Goodyear-style.
Egan also had some serious talent that came up with the Model J’s design: renowned aerospace engineer Daniel Ramyer, who worked on the famous Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
I, for one, can’t wait for the blimp to make its long-awaited comeback.
READ MORE: Hybrid airship startup builds ultra-safe, ‘plummet-proof’ aircraft with a catchy name [Teslarati]