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Football analyst John Madden may have a fear of flying, but you can see his face broadcast over a 70-by-30-foot LED screen on the side of a blimp. The Lightship Group's A-170 lightship recently received Federal Aviation Administration clearance to fly with the wide screen. Stronger lift power and lighter electronics have made the bigger screens possible.
High Altitude Airship
Lockheed Martin is developing a high-altitude airship (HAA) for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. It could be used as a surveillance platform, telecommunications relay, weather observer or telescope platform. The 400-foot long, 140-foot diameter airship is expected to float for about a month above the jet stream, at an altitude of 60,000 feet. The HAA could observe an area of 600 square miles and millions of cubic miles of airspace. The prototype and test delivery is scheduled for 2009.
DynalifterAnother concept is the hybrid airship. These ships get a large portion of their lift from their wings and hull, so they can't be called airships. But they do solve typical airship problems involving takeoff, landing and ground operations.
The Ohio Airship's Dynalifter was subcontracted to defense contractors Conceptual Research Corporation, Analytical Methods and Composite Engineering. The companies have developed models from a 120-foot-long prototype (left) to a 990-foot freighter.
One of Howard Hughes' last projects was to work on the development of the cargo-carrying vessel called the Megalifter hybrid. These hybrid freighters could be a boon to the environment by taking thousands of trucks off the highway.