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Goodyear's New State-of-the-Art Airship Makes Its First Flight

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the ehnvelope-ahnvelope dept.

Transportation 66

Zothecula (1870348) writes "The Goodyear blimp may have been flying around for almost 90 years, but it still manages to turn heads. On Friday, there was another reason to look beyond nostalgia for the days of the great airships of old as Goodyear unveiled its new state-of-the-art blimp to the media, Goodyear associates and dealers at its Wingfoot Lake hangar in Suffield, Ohio. Built in partnership with the Zeppelin company, the new craft that replaces the 45-year old GZ-20 blimp fleet is not only larger and faster, it isn't even a blimp, but a semi-rigid airship."

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Kirov Reporting (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46555847)

Maneuver props engaged

Re:Kirov Reporting (1)

Marillion (33728) | about 6 months ago | (#46558779)

Thanks for the Command and Conquer reference. It made my day.

I see that the US..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46562529)

... Built in partnership with the Zeppelin company...

Have failed as usual to do the engineering themselves, and have called in the Germans.

At least that means the craft will work, like the Saturn V, rather than failing like the Shuttle...

Which one is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46555855)

The Goodyear blimp may have been flying around for almost 90 years ... the new craft that replaces the 45-year old GZ-20 blimp

So is it 45 or 90 years?

Re:Which one is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46555867)

I assume the GZ-20s replaced a previous model for a total of 90 years of “the Goodyear blimp” but 45 years of the current model.

Re:Which one is it? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 months ago | (#46556991)

Of course it is that way. The moron was just being sarcastic ( or is dumb as hell )

Re:Which one is it? (1)

ThatAblaze (1723456) | about 6 months ago | (#46555999)

Haven't you ever seen "the rocketeer"?

Re:Which one is it? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556009)

It's 90 years in blimp years.

Re:Which one is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556059)

But the real question is how many lives does a blimp have?

Re:Which one is it? (1)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 6 months ago | (#46556209)

I have seen many blimps about the place so this is not amazing news, they are becoming more and more common...but I thought that McDs was behind it?

Blimps don't live to 90.....heart Disease or diabetes takes them long before then.

Three Blimps walk into a bar....thank god there wasn't a fire or everybody would have died.

I am a horrible disgusting "fat shamer".....and I will be here weekends and friday nights folks!

Name suggestions? (1)

helixcode123 (514493) | about 6 months ago | (#46555857)

They haven't named it yet. I'm guessing they won't be going with "Hindenburg II"

Re:Name suggestions? (0, Offtopic)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 6 months ago | (#46555897)

Ze Hindenburg in spandex . With ze helium

Re:Name suggestions? (3, Informative)

Aviation Pete (252403) | about 6 months ago | (#46556219)

Ze Hindenburg in spandex . With ze helium

The Hindenburg was designed for helium, but had to use hydrogen because of an US monopoly of helium in combination with an acute attack of envy which resulted in a boycott. The rest is (well known) history ...

Re:Name suggestions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556189)

The blimp already flies in colors of Ukraine, though can't claim they haven't yet had a Good Year for some time ...

Thinking of it, some clever pun with Crimea or Putin would be well suited with above.

Re:Name suggestions? (3, Funny)

StripedCow (776465) | about 6 months ago | (#46557943)

Since it is filled with helium, I'd suggest "The Chipmunk".

Re:Name suggestions? (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 7 months ago | (#46560909)

They haven't named it yet. I'm guessing they won't be going with "Hindenburg II"

I prefer Hindenburg 2.0

Ooh (0)

Greyfox (87712) | about 6 months ago | (#46555883)

I'd sell my granny for a chance to do a skydive out of that thing.

Re:Ooh (0)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 6 months ago | (#46555911)

The older versions of that thing included free skydive from a fireball .

Re:Ooh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556065)

Nothing says the modern ones can't do that. just need to switch out the Helium for Hydrogen

Re:Ooh (1)

Aviation Pete (252403) | about 6 months ago | (#46556231)

The older versions of that thing included free skydive from a fireball .

Actually, the older version of *this* thing is called Zeppelin NT and flies now for about 20 years all around the Lake Constance region. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeppelin_NT [slashdot.org]

Re:Ooh (1)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 6 months ago | (#46556273)

nah .. i'm talkin about hitlers baloons .

Re:Ooh (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 6 months ago | (#46556749)

So logically this new one would be Zeppelin XP. I predict it will be a more successful, after which we will see Zeppelin Vista, which will use the lighter and more easily available hydrogen. They promise improved security and safety this time.

Wasted taxpayer dollars. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46555903)

We should be spending that money on blimps FOR THE PEOPLE. Not for these big corporations.

Enjoy it while it floats (4, Informative)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 6 months ago | (#46555949)

In a few decades, flying a blimp might become a bit difficult [theweek.com] .

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (5, Informative)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 6 months ago | (#46555967)

Yes, if we continue to waste helium like idiots. However, one design for modern airships involves re-compressing the helium to control buoyancy rather than bleeding it off.

The future of airship transport looks pretty interesting to me:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/... [bloomberg.com]

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (4, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#46556243)

Maybe switch back to hydrogen? It's cheap. Sure, the flamability or explosive issue is there - but we have improved materials now, and a better understanding of how static electricity behaves. Perhaps it can be made safe.

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (2)

Chelloveck (14643) | about 6 months ago | (#46557539)

Undoubtedly it could be safe. Hydrogen by itself is not flammable. You need to add oxygen or some other oxidizer. Try filling a dumpster-sized plastic bag with hydrogen. Shoot bottle rockets into it. They tend to puncture the plastic and explode inside -- without igniting the hydrogen. In fact it's quite difficult to get the hydrogen to ignite this way. It's only if you get lucky and get a bottle rocket tangled in the plastic and it explodes right at the hydrogen/air boundary that you get the satisfying whumph! of an explosion. And that's only because the flame melts the plastic and enlarges the hole, letting more hydrogen contact the air and creating more heat to melt more plastic... If the skin was made of a tough, non-flammable material the worst you'd get is a jet of flame, not much worse than a simple puncture of the same size.

The lesson of the Hindenburg shouldn't have been that hydrogen is particularly dangerous. It should have been that coating the skin of your airship with a highly flammable lacquer is a really bad idea.

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 6 months ago | (#46558745)

Have they solve the problem of Hydrogen leaking rapidly through every thin membrane? Perhaps aluminized mylar would be impermeable? (That's a wild guess. I've done *NO* research. But it *would* be flashy.)

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (1)

werepants (1912634) | about 6 months ago | (#46559251)

I think the solution in this case is that hydrogen is cheap and plentiful - so you top off as necessary.

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#46560087)

Helium really isn't much better. Tiny tiny atoms. At least hydrogen has the decency to pair up.

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#46560097)

The stuff they make those party balloons with? The ones that invariably leak their helium overnight?

The material they used on helium should be good enough. It'll need refilling at regular intervals, but hydrogen is fairly cheap, and there's no possibility of running out.

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (1)

Admiral_Grinder (830562) | about 7 months ago | (#46563311)

Oddly enough, we have one from when my daughter was born 2 years ago that hasn't lost any at all. Now, this is attached to a stick and hangs out in a vase so it may not have helium in it.

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 6 months ago | (#46555987)

We have less helium for 2 reasons. 1) The US military is hoarding it 2) we are not using as much natural gas (of which helium is a byproduct). If helium becomes important and scarce enough, we CAN make more. There just isn't any point right now.

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (0)

Hadlock (143607) | about 6 months ago | (#46556047)

Explain how you get helium out of natural gas? During the drilling phase? You can't "make" atomic elements...

Re: Enjoy it while it floats (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556071)

With an accelerator, you can make anything... It's just expensive.

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556109)

Two words : Fusion.

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (4, Informative)

RsG (809189) | about 6 months ago | (#46556139)

When underground radioactive elements decay, helium is a byproduct (look up "alpha particle radiation"). Because it's a noble gas and doesn't bond with anything, it seeps its way to the surface, where it escapes into the upper atmosphere. Some helium can instead become trapped by non-porous rock, in underground pockets. Those same pockets sometimes have natural gas deposits.

So you find a natural gas deposit, tap it, and what comes out as well? Helium. It's not the main product they're after when they go drilling, but it is valuable enough to set aside and sell.

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556559)

There is little reason not to use the much more plentiful hydrogen, for blimps.

Re:Enjoy it while it floats (1)

Doomsought (3407379) | about 6 months ago | (#46559933)

We are not running out of Helium in general. We are getting low on a specific isotope of helium that is used in medicine, but its only a trace amount of it that is in your general helium reserves.

Zeppelin NT (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 6 months ago | (#46555983)

It's a Zeppelin NT. One was based in Silicon Valley for several years [airshipventures.com] , but didn't make money after the price of helium doubled. It cost $400 for a sightseeing tour of the Bay Area.

I've heard a talk by the company CEO, who'd piloted the thing. It handles much better than the classic Goodyear blimp, which he'd also flown. With three steerable props and computer coordination, it's much more controllable during landing. It doesn't require a large ground crew hanging onto ropes to get the thing tied down. That's why Goodyear is going with the NT, even though it's more expensive than their classic blimp. There are videos on Youtube of both types landing.

If you want to see what it's like to fly one, the open source FlightGear simulator has a good model of the NT, including the mobile docking truck.

Re:Zeppelin NT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556541)

Thanks for that tip-off! I'm downloading the open source flight simulator now. I expect it'll be at least as refined as the old MS Flight sim.

Re:Zeppelin NT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46557223)

...and I'd imagine that with it being more maneuverable as well as faster they could do with fewer of them than their old blimp fleet and still manage to cover the equivalent number of ... well, let's call them "events"...

Evolution of the GZ-22 Airship (1)

Alan426 (962302) | about 6 months ago | (#46555995)

Article fails to mention the company's previous attempt at semi-rigid airship design. Goodyear unveiled the GZ-22 [wikipedia.org] with similar fanfare in 1989, then quietly crashed it a few months later.

nitpicking nomenclature (4, Informative)

blindseer (891256) | about 6 months ago | (#46556001)

This means that the craft is technically no longer a blimp or dirigible because the structure of the envelope is no longer supported entirely by the gas inside.

Any aircraft that obtains lift from a lighter than air gas is an airship or aerostat. An airship that has the ability to propel itself is a dirigible, one that cannot is a balloon. An airship that contains no rigid support structure for the envelope can be called either a blimp or non-rigid. An airship that has the envelope supported entirely by a solid structure is considered a rigid dirigible or a Zepplin, named after the person that developed that style of craft and the company that bears his name that built them.

Since these new Goodyear airships are semi-rigid and built by the Zeppelin company I would tend to call this type of airship a Zeppelin. Perhaps my tendency might conflict with others as it might be more correctly be called a semi-rigid dirigible that happened to be made by Zeppelin.

I agree that these new aircraft are not blimps but they are most certainly dirigibles.

With that said I'm not going to beat anyone over the head for calling them "blimps", everyone will know generally what they are talking about. I might even call them a blimp just because I've heard people using the words "Goodyear" and "blimp" together for so long that I'd have to be reminded that these new crafts are not blimps.

What gets crazy is that some airships are not technically lighter than air. They contain gasses in the envelope that is lighter than air but not enough to provide sufficient buoyancy for lifting the entire weight of the craft. They'd technically be still heavier than air and would require the engines running to leave the ground. I don't know if the Goodyear airships are lighter or heavier than air.

Whatever people want to call them I think these airships are cool. I believe this is a technology that will allow for some very large and heavy lifting aircraft that could compete with many other forms of transport over land, air, or sea.

Re:nitpicking nomenclature (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556091)

Shhhhh..... This thing has NAZI origins!

Re:nitpicking nomenclature (4, Informative)

Catmeat (20653) | about 6 months ago | (#46556505)

They contain gasses in the envelope that is lighter than air but not enough to provide sufficient buoyancy for lifting the entire weight of the craft. They'd technically be still heavier than air and would require the engines running to leave the ground. I don't know if the Goodyear airships are lighter or heavier than air.

You're right, I believe Zeppelin NTs are several hundred kilos heavy on take-off, when carrying payload and full load of fuel. Though they can be lighter than air when landing with the fuel mostly gone. Of course the other big complication to trimming a dirigible is air conditions, which can change during the flight. Buoyancy increases significantly if an airship flies from warm air into a bank of colder, denser air and the craft will remain buoyant until the helium cools to match the air temperature. In the old days, air

All this is what makes vectored thrust a fantastically useful thing for an airship pilot. It gives better control and also means the pilot can vector thrust up to land when his/her craft is lighter-than-air. I'd say this is vital for keeping costs down, as it avoids venting helium for landing.

Although the usefulness of vectored thrust was no lost on the early designers. See this picture [wikipedia.org] of a pre-World War 1 British military blimp with rotatable props.

Re:nitpicking nomenclature (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 6 months ago | (#46556805)

Nerd.

Re:nitpicking nomenclature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556955)

Contemptuous jackass.

Re: nitpicking nomenclature (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556981)

"News for nerds..." Seriously you are a worthless human being. Get off of this site and/or kill yourself.

Re: nitpicking nomenclature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46557033)

Fuck, replied to wrong post. The above was meant for GP.

Re:nitpicking nomenclature (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 6 months ago | (#46557209)

Oh, come on, say it with me...

"Semi-rigid derigible"

Say it again!

Say it three times fast!

Try to keep a straight face!

Re:nitpicking nomenclature (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 6 months ago | (#46556817)

So what is the point? If the gas would of supported a lighter, softer, thinner, cheaper body, why re-enforce it at all?

Re:nitpicking nomenclature (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46557879)

Support is relative. A strong breeze can make a non-rigid airship 'interesting' to fly.

Amusing note, I once saw the Budweiser blimp staggering drunkenly in the wind.

look, a German engineering nazi. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46558573)

build me a moon rocket, fritzl, and we'll forget about the jew trains.

Re:nitpicking nomenclature (1)

Wolfrider (856) | about 7 months ago | (#46571225)

--As long as it has Goodyear on it and resembles the old ship, it will always be the Goodyear Blimp. Just like we always refer to the Sears Tower, Marshall Fields, and Wrigley Field. Nostalgia has intertia.

/ ask a Chicagoan

This story is a dupe! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556015)

It's the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girls dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day.

Oh the humanity! (1)

Media Archivist (3478167) | about 6 months ago | (#46556183)

Although, to be fair, zeppelin safety has improved tremendously.

Re:Oh the humanity! (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 6 months ago | (#46556277)

To be totally fair, the Germans are not the only people that built and crashed large airships. The USA and UK also built huge ships and they all crashed horribly.

Re:Oh the humanity! (3, Interesting)

Aviation Pete (252403) | about 6 months ago | (#46556281)

Although, to be fair, zeppelin safety has improved tremendously.

Before WW I, Zeppelins had a spotless safety record, having flown thousands of passengers in hundreds of flights. Only when the military came in did accidents happen. See Wikipedia list of airship accidents [wikipedia.org]

If the same standards that grounded Zeppelins after the Hindenburg accident had been applied to aircraft, civilian heavier-than-air passenger transportation would never have taken off.

Airspeed (1)

kervin (64171) | about 6 months ago | (#46556953)

If the same standards that grounded Zeppelins after the Hindenburg accident had been applied to aircraft, civilian heavier-than-air passenger transportation would never have taken off.

I suspect the fact that these things traveled about 50 MPH had more to do with their demise than a few high-profile accidents.

Re:Oh the humanity! (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46557899)

...would never have taken off.

So to speak.

Re:Oh the humanity! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46558861)

About half of the crew and about half of the passengers survived the crash at Lakehurst.

The name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46556819)

Led Zeppelin Forever!!!!

good god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46557341)

..that was a boring article. Here's a better one about semi-rigid airships,

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/how-an-airship-the-size-of-a-football-field-could-revolutionize-air-travel-180950007/?no-ist

Any idea what these are running, price-wise? (1)

hot soldering iron (800102) | about 6 months ago | (#46559551)

I think with the appropriate paint job, and a larger gondola for cargo, there could be airship pirates in our future! Anyone feel like signing up for a (short) life of adventure and riches?

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