Except for balloons and “blimps”, lighter-than-air craft have all but disappeared from our skies since the fateful destruction of the German Zeppelin Hindenburg on May 6, 1937. Military dirigibles, used extensively in World War I, were not used in World War II. Non-rigid blimps were developed and employed for surveillance and, after the war, promotional purposes (e.g., the Fuji and Goodyear blimps), but the great age of the rigid airship was over before the start of World War II.
What has been forgotten today is that travel and commerce by airship had, until 1937, been successful business. German, and to a lesser extent, British and French airships carried cargo between many cities in Europe before World War I. After the war, commerce by air continued with larger, faster and more luxurious airships, extending to international routes.
Today, more than fifty years later, the time has come to reconsider the airship. Since the 1930’s, revolutionary changes have occurred in nearly all the sciences and technologies associated with airship construction and operation. Advancements made in materials, engineering and computer and communication technologies have made the development of the airships an even more viable means of transport today than before.
Through the means of lighter-than-air technology, Aerotecture uses today’s technology to expand the vision of travel in the sky. More importantly, Aerotecture boldly applies design thinking to new uses of the air for working and living purposes. Aerotecture is not just airship design; it is the serious extension of human activities to a previously under-utilized environment.
PDF report: Aerotecture
Charles L. Owen
Completion date: 01/12/1992