We’re Getting a Blimp, People!
We’re getting a blimp! We’re getting a blimp!
Excuse me. I mean, (I clear my throat, smooth my hair, and speak in my very serious radio announcer voice)…
Dateline: Orlando, Florida. FL-Skyship Services Inc., the Type Certificate holders and operators of the Skyship 600 series airships, is planning an extended trip this summer that will take them to the far North – and be the first airship to visit Alaska since the 1920’s.
They call it an “airship,” but we know what that really means. The Alask0-Blimp plans to be in Anchorage around July 4, 2013 and return to the Lower 48 in September.
The Skyship 600 is the largest certified “non-rigid airship” currently in operation. The thing is 200 feet long and carries up to 15 people at a time. It even has “thrust-vectoring engines” and, like a Harrier jump jet, it can take off and land vertically. Cruise speed is about 40 mph and it can cruise along for 18 hours at a time.
You may be asking yourself why Alaska needs a blimp. Well, the press release posited the same question, and answered itself.
“Why take an airship to Alaska? Because Alaska needs airships.”
Yeah, we want a blimp, because we need a blimp, dammit! Blimp! Rides! Blimp! Rides! Blimp! Rides!
The Skyship can take part in aerial surveys, maritime patrols, wildlife observation, and environmental monitoring.
Airships are outstanding platforms for aerial surveys due to their slow speed and low altitude. There is little vibration in the gondola, and the flight is smooth and controlled. Surveys flown from airships have been shown to offer higher resolution and higher accuracy than aircraft or helicopters. Airships do not bank (or roll) in turns, keeping their sensors pointed at the ground all the time. Viewers have seen the stability and consistency of aerial coverage of sporting events from airships – there is a reason why TV producers like airships.
No blimp rides?
“Alaska’s limited road system in turn limits the ability to efficiently survey our resource rich lands,” said Senator Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage) who is the Co-Chair of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission. “It makes perfect sense for Alaska to have an airship to open up access to opportunities in resource development that will help secure Alaska’s financial future.”
Resource development blimps?
Blimps like the Skyship 600 are excellent platforms for aerial prospecting for valuable minerals. Special instruments can be fitted that measure the earth’s gravity and magnetic field, and geologists can use these surveys to locate oil deposits, gold, diamonds or other resources. This is a science where the airship’s low speed, low vibration, and low altitude pay off in improved results for miners.
OK, The Mudflats is officially pouty and disappointed, and we humbly suggest to FL-Skyship Services that they’re missing the boat. You don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere in Alaska on a blimp when some crazy windstorm picks up. Or what if something happens and you need to land somewhere? Don’t you need a hangar for that thing? Are there blimp tie-downs for Arctic storm conditions? Heck, no. Get that thing to the Fair, or Merrill Field, and start selling tickets!
Or at least while you’re up there, find a gold and copper deposit that doesn’t mess with the largest wild salmon fishery on the planet. Just a thought.