Ever since the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out with the Turtle Blimp, I’ve wanted to ride on one. Unfortunately, those assholes at Goodyear refuse to acknowledge my repeated requests, and that whole Hindenburg thing sort of soured the public on using airships to transport people. Hopefully, rising fuel prices are going to change that.
Fuel makes up more than half of airline’s costs, and last year Delta alone paid $3 billion more for gas than it did in 2010. The International Air Transport Association projects that the industry’s fuel bill will grow by $40 billion in 2012, and that’s got me hoping someone will get desperate enough to start thinking outside of the box.
Worldwide Aeros Corporation is supposedly developing a hybrid craft based on the Walrus HULA (Hybrid Ultra Large Aircraft). It’s designed to get two-thirds of its lift from Helium and carry up to 180 passengers. It was supposed to fly in 2010, then it was pushed back to 2011, and now they’re looking for a maiden voyage in 2012. It wouldn’t surprise me if it gets postponed again, but we blimp and airship aficionados are a patient lot.
I guess my main concern if I ever did get to ride on a passenger blimp would be a terrorist attack. As a gas filled sack, it’s fairly vulnerable to sabotage, and I have to imagine the TSA list of banned items will be fairly comprehensive. The more I think about it, you pretty much have to ban everything from guns to sharpened sticks.