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The Future Of Air Travel: Sky-Surfing On A Giant Zeppelin

In Passing Cloud, a lofty–and lofty–design concept by New York-based Tiago Barros, passengers float on a cloud-shaped, wind-powered aircraft.

Imagine an air carrier that eschews the conveniences of modern-day travel such as precise arrival times, pre-set destinations, and even seats. We’re not talking about Delta (good guess, though). We’re talking about Passing Cloud, a, yes, cloud-shaped blimp that’s designed to carry passengers any way the wind blows.

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Passing Cloud is the kooky concept of New York designer Tiago Barros. Barros came up with the idea for Life at the Speed of Rail, a design competition mounted by the Van Alen Institute with support from NYC’s Department of Cultural Affairs (he didn’t win, alas). “Nowadays, traveling is achieved with this idea of having a fixed destination and an estimated time of arrival. Passing Cloud completely inverts this system,” he says.

The aircraft would appear like a collection of giant balloons covered in heavy-weight tensile nylon fabric and would fly around the United States touching down here and there as weather dictates–no artificial power needed. What’s more, people would ride on the aircraft, not in it, as if surfing through the sky. “The cloud comes down to pick up passengers and then travels with the wind to an unknown destination,” Barros tells Co.Design. The point? The thrill of the ride, of course! Or, as Barros describes it: “The journey becomes the essence.” Though we hate to think of what might happen to your essence in a lightening storm.

[Images courtesy of Tiago Barros]

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About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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