1st Airship in 90 Years Flies to Alaska This Summer
Could Modern Day Airships Present an Opportunity for Resource Development in Alaska?
March 19, 2013
The Skyship 600 is the largest certified non-rigid airship currently in operation, and is 200 feet long and carries up to 15 people at a time. This modern airship has thrust-vectoring engines and, like a Harrier jump jet, can take off and land from vertically. Cruise speed is about 40 mph and it can cruise along for 18 hours at a time.
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.
“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.”
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.
Airships are the most efficient of flying machines. Airships are quiet, putting out little noise, and very fuel efficient, having a small percentage of the carbon footprint of heavier-than-air craft. Airships also have the best safety record of any vehicle that flies, outperforming helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Modern airships use non-flammable helium for lift, and the thrust-vectoring engines give the Skyship outstanding maneuverability.
These attributes make airships the most environmentally friendly – and the safest - aircraft in the skies.
“This is an excited opportunity for Alaska to witness the potential of airships in this environment,” Senator McGuire continued. “This mature technology has the potential to drive new resource development in Alaska.”
Skyship Services is currently looking for additional partners in this venture who would like to take part in discovering what makes airships so special.
Based in Orlando, Florida, Julian Benscher, the president of Skyship Services Inc., has been involved with Skyships for over 20 years. “We are coming to Alaska to work”, he states. “We are bringing the airship to show how it can earn its pay as an aerial platform for sensors and observation. We may do a bit of sightseeing – Alaska is a beautiful place, after all – but we are coming to show that we can work in Alaska – and we hope to come back to base an airship here permanently.”
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