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December 17th, 2004 - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Dec. 17th, 2004

05:38 am - AIRSHIPS - Problems and solutions


Problems And Solutions

DEFINITION OF AN AIRSHIP FOR THIS ESSAY: a rigid, fully-framed aerial vehicle that is buoyant but does not use gas pressure to maintain its shape.

So, blimps and semi-rigids are out.


The airship is probably the greatest unsung hero in avaiation history. It is one of the best ways to transport anything from one place to another, yet there are very few airships around today. This is mainly because of the Hindenburg disaster, which made many people believe airships were nothing more than flying gas bombs waiting to explode. In fact, the Hindenberg had a perfect safety record and would not have been in danger if US president Franklin Roosevelt had not refused to supply the Zeppelin Company with helium. But that's another story.

Today there are thousands of people who would like to see airships come back. Some of these are working to make it happen while others (like me) can only dream.

In dreaming, I have learned about many of the problems facing airship designers both past and present. Here I offer my solutions, free for the taking to anyone who is willing and able to build the dream.

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05:49 am - A Steam-Fired Jet Engine for Boats?


A Steam-Fired Jet Engine for Boats?
A Company Develops a Jet Engine for Boats Fired by Steam
By Paul Eng

- Thrillseekers can get the same kind of high-speed ride from jet skis and speed boats that they can from high-performance race cars. But just like for vehicles on terra firma, speed on the water comes at great cost.

That's because traditional propeller-equipped engines aren't terribly fuel efficient at high speeds, while fast-spinning blades can become entangled with underwater plant life.

What's more, leaky oils and fuels from the engine can pollute the water, while the blades pose a threat to passing marine life.

But now Pursuit Dynamics PLC in Royston, England, says it has a new type of propulsion system to address those problems. Described as an "underwater jet engine," what literally makes this engine a blast is that it's powered primarily by centuries-old technology — steam.

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07:25 pm - The Great Airship Race


The Great Airship Race

by Frank Laffitte

[From Ideas on Liberty, February 2001 -- Vol. 51, No. 2, p. 20.]

Frank Laffitte is a freelance writer in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Today as we face the consequences of de facto socialism in much of our transportation, it is poignant to think that we might have avoided our problems if the results of an experiment in the 1920s had been heeded. That experiment, perhaps the most dramatic head-to-head competition between capitalism and socialism, was the brainchild of the first Labor government of England.

In 1924 the government of Ramsay MacDonald decided to establish air service between England and India. In those days, three years before Lindbergh's flight, it was believed that airplanes would never be capable of useful transoceanic flight. A German airship (dirigible) was already carrying passengers and freight on an established route to and from South America. Consequently, the British government sponsored a contest for an airship. One ship was to be developed by the Air Ministry, another by private enterprise. The winner would be awarded the air route.

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