March 19, 2014 (Scottsdale, AZ)
March 4, 1936 the airship Hindenburg (D-LZ 1290) made its maiden flight at Friedrichshafen, Germany. The Hindenburg was 803 feet, 10 inches long and 135 feet in diameter. The hydrogen filled, monster sized airship was designed by Ludwig Dürr and had luxurious features like a spacious, elegant dining room, sleeping berths, private rooms, an observation deck and smoking lounge. The Hindenburg was powered by four massive engines weighing an astonishing 4,356 pounds each and produced a maximum 1,320 horsepower. Lift was created by filling 16 separate latex and cotton gas cells with 7,062,000 cubic feet of hydrogen. When fully loaded the airship could cruise at a maximum speed of 84 miles per hour. At the time the Hindenburg was a modern marvel. On May 6, 1937 the unthinkable happened when the Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed while attempting to dock at the Lakehurst, N.J. Naval Air Station. 36 passengers and crew lost their lives in the disaster.
Fast forward 78 years and there’s an amazing new high-tech airship being prepped for commercial use. The Hybrid Air Vehicle (HAV304) Airship. The HAV304 is known as a long distance multi-intelligence vehicle and is being classified as a new type of aircraft called hybrid air vehicles. The Aircraft design was a $300 million project that was originally designed for use by the U.S. Army, but the Army scrubbed the project. The Army sold the project to British investors, including Rocker Bruce Dickinson of the Rock Band Iron Maiden. Dickinson is an accomplished pilot and former airline pilot. The British group of investors has big plans for the enormous, modern airship. Dickinson plans to manufacture and sell the aircraft to prospective buyers for surveillance, security, and humanitarian projects or as a communications or broadcast platform. People in Bedfordshire England, where the aircraft is located, were astonished by its size. Part plane, part helicopter, part airship, it measures 300 feet long and is now considered the largest aircraft in the world, surpassing the Antonov AN-225 by 30 feet and Airbus A380 by 63 feet.
The British company sees the HAV304 as the next generation of environmentally friendly cargo aircraft. The low carbon aircraft is estimated to be 70% more environmentally friendly than cargo planes. It is powered by four 350 hp engines and has an interesting aerodynamic shape that is similar to an airplane and can create lift in a similar way that an airplane’s wing does. It cruises at a speed of 100 miles per hour and has the capacity of hauling passengers and cargo. It can stay aloft for three-and-half weeks, which can be useful for delivering humanitarian aid, communications and surveillance. HAV plans to build 600-1000 new freight versions called the Airlander 50 over the next ten years, which will create 1,800 new jobs. They believe this newer version will be able to carry up to 50 tons of freight and is much safer and better for the environment than the ill-fated Hindenburg ever was. HAV hopes to lead the world in this new type of aircraft production in years to come.