Military Getting Ready To Bring Back The Airship - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Military Getting Ready To Bring Back The Airship

TUSTIN, Calif. (AP) - The massive blimp-like aircraft flies but just barely, hovering only a dozen feet off a military hangar floor during flight testing south of Los Angeles.

Still, the fact that the hulking Aeroscraft could fly for just a few minutes represents a step forward in aviation, according to the engineers who developed it. The Department of Defense and NASA have invested $35 million in the prototype because of its potential to one day carry more cargo than any other aircraft to disaster zones and forward military bases.

"I realized that I put a little dot in the line of aviation history. A little dot for something that has never been demonstrated before, now it's feasible," said flight control engineer Munir Jojo-Verge.

The airship is undergoing testing this month at Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin, and must go through several more rounds of flight testing before it could be used in a disaster zone or anywhere else. The first major flight test took place Jan. 3.

The biggest challenge for engineers is making sure the airship will be able to withstand high winds and other extreme weather conditions, Jojo-Verge said.

Worldwide Aeros, the company that developed the aircraft, said it also must secure more funding for the next round of flight testing, but is hopeful the Defense Department and others will step in again as investors.

The company says the cargo airship's potential to carry more cargo more efficiently than ever before would provide the U.S. military with an advantage on the battlefield and greater capacity to save more lives during natural disasters.

The lighter-than-air vehicle is not a blimp or a zeppelin because it has a rigid structure made out of ultra-light carbon fiber and aluminum underneath its high-tech Mylar skin. Inside, balloons hold the helium that gives the vehicle lift. Unlike hydrogen, the gas used in the Hindenburg airship that crashed in 1937, helium is not flammable.

The airship functions like a submarine, releasing air to rise and taking in air to descend, said Aeros mechanical engineer Tim Kenny. It can take off vertically, like a helicopter, then change its buoyancy to become heavier than air for landing and unloading.

"It allows the vehicle to set down on the ground. And then when we want to become lighter than air, we release that air and then the vehicle floats and we can allow it to take off," Kenny said.

The project has set abuzz the old hangars at the Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin. The structures were built to hold blimps during World War II. Now workers zip around in cherry-pickers, and the airship's silvery surface shines against the warm tones of the aging wood of the walls.

"You could take this vehicle and go to destinations that have been destroyed, where there's no ports, no runways, stuff like that. This vehicle could go in there, offload the cargo even if there's no infrastructure, no landing site for it to land on, this vehicle can unload its whole payload," said Kenny.

Next, Aeros wants to build a full-size 450-foot-long vehicle that can carry 66 tons of payload.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Driver lands on I-90 barrier after overcorrecting

    Driver lands on I-90 barrier after overcorrecting

    Saturday, June 24 2017 2:07 AM EDT2017-06-24 06:07:22 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Firefighters say a car was driving too fast on I-90 near the state line Friday afternoon, and couldn't slow down in time to deal with traffic. The driver overcorrected and landed on the barrier. The driver suffered minor injuries. The crash caused a backup for several hours near Starr Rd. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Firefighters say a car was driving too fast on I-90 near the state line Friday afternoon, and couldn't slow down in time to deal with traffic. The driver overcorrected and landed on the barrier. The driver suffered minor injuries. The crash caused a backup for several hours near Starr Rd. 

    >>
  • Homeless single father tries to turn luck around for 4-year-old daughter

    Homeless single father tries to turn luck around for 4-year-old daughter

    Friday, June 23 2017 11:09 PM EDT2017-06-24 03:09:10 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. George Simpkins packed his bags and moved from Ohio to Spokane to start a new job. But when he got to the Lilac City, his string of bad luck started.  “That never happened,” said Simpkins. “I’ve had temporary jobs off and on.” It’s been several years since Simpkins moved to Spokane, and the now 48-year-old hasn’t been able to keep a job, but it’s not due to lack of effort. “I’ve lost a couple of jobs because

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. George Simpkins packed his bags and moved from Ohio to Spokane to start a new job. But when he got to the Lilac City, his string of bad luck started.  “That never happened,” said Simpkins. “I’ve had temporary jobs off and on.” It’s been several years since Simpkins moved to Spokane, and the now 48-year-old hasn’t been able to keep a job, but it’s not due to lack of effort. “I’ve lost a couple of jobs because

    >>
  • Retiring school resource officer leaves behind a legacy

    Retiring school resource officer leaves behind a legacy

    Friday, June 23 2017 9:44 PM EDT2017-06-24 01:44:26 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - It's the end of an era at Central Valley School District. After years of making a difference in students life, the school resource officer is saying goodbye. Jeff Duncan is a School Resource Officer for the Central Valley School District at University High School. Monday marked their last day of class, and was also the last day of work and beginning of retirement for Jeff.  "It's just time for me to retire," Jeff said. "You know 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - It's the end of an era at Central Valley School District. After years of making a difference in students life, the school resource officer is saying goodbye. Jeff Duncan is a School Resource Officer for the Central Valley School District at University High School. Monday marked their last day of class, and was also the last day of work and beginning of retirement for Jeff.  "It's just time for me to retire," Jeff said. "You know 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/