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Innovation: The Air Up There

Decades ago, the airship was touted as the wave of the future in travel, with the Hindenburg zeppelin poised to be the proof of that prophecy. The largest airship ever built, the Hindenburg offered the height of luxury travel and was capable of carrying 2,656 people across the Atlantic.

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But on May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg burst into flames in a mid-air disaster that would essentially mark the end the era of the dirigible.

But a futuristic dirigible descendant is poised to reclaim a place in the sky, according to a recent Popular Science Magazine story (“The Flying Luxury Hotel”)
that describes a two-football-fields-long aircraft (the “Aeroscraft”) as a combination flying ferry, cruise ship, and luxury hotel.

Apparently several cruise ship companies have expressed interest.

“Unlike its dirigible ancestors,” the article’s author Joshua Tompkins says, “the Aeroscraft is not lighter than air. Its 14 million cubic feet of helium hoist only two thirds of the craft’s weight.”

It’s not a blimp, the article makes clear.

The market for the nonblimp blimp is said to be people who want to travel long distances but are more interested in the journey rather than the destination.

Although its expected top speed will be only about 175 MPH, the Aeroscraft’s range is estimated at 6,000 miles. It will be equipped with the latest in cruise amenities for its complement of 250 passengers.

The firm constructing this high-tech dirigible, California-based Worldwide Aeros Corporation, an FAA-certified, privately held company, projects that it will have a working prototype ready by 2010.

Says corporation chief Igor Pasternak, “It’s a new vision of what can be done in the air.”

Oh, the humanity.

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