Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I have no idea how long this will stay here, but for the time being enjoy a documentary on zeppelins.

I've always loved airships. So it deeply saddens me that the only form of air transportation today is stuffy, cramped airplanes. People flew in style in the past;  they had big, luxurious balloons to travel in, fine dining and spacious cabins. You didn't arrive as quickly as you would in a jet, but you didn't have to; not when the journey was half the reason for traveling.

While lighter-than-air vehicles are making something of a comeback, there's still plenty of bias against them. People hold onto this belief that zeppelins are just flying tanks of napalm, ready to go up in flames at a moments notice. But as that video shows that simply is not the case.

The problem is that the worst zeppelin disaster in history was probably also the most well documented. It completely transformed the public's perception of these machines, souring their opinion of them virtually overnight. Any mention of airships or zeppelins inevitably recalls it's name: Hindenburg.

Cruise ships are constantly coming back to harbor full of people suffering from food-borne diseases, but people still go on cruises. There are countless car crashes on the road every day, but we still use them. If your average passenger jet's engines fail it's going to start falling out of the sky. So why do airships get such a bad reputation?

If a zeppelin's engines suddenly fail it'll stay in the air. It will start drifting, but it's not like it's going to drop out of the sky. Because it's a zeppelin. It's buoyant.

The frustrating thing is that all the problems associated with the Hindenburg are easily rectified using modern technology: Don't use hydrogen gas, don't use flammable paint. Easy. Problem solved.

If the Hindenburg were rebuilt today using helium gas it would probably be the safest thing in the air (and that's including birds). Hydrogen was the fatal flaw in all old zeppelin designs. If they used slightly more massive helium they wouldn't have any problems with flammable gas leaks. To the contrary, they would be nigh-indestructible.

If you haven't seen the video all the way though, the British eventually learned how to destroy the German zeppelins using alternating explosive and incendiary ammo to punch large holes in the gas bags. This would let enough oxygen inside to start a fire. Using concentrated fire, they could ignite the hydrogen, resulting in the complete conflagration of the airship. You know what would foil that plan? Helium.

If they used helium gas it would be impossible to fill those zeppelins with enough bullets to bring them down. They would bomb all of London with complete impunity and no one could do anything to stop them.

Don't get me wrong; I'm glad London isn't a smoking crater. I just feel the need to point out a rigid airship full of helium is basically indestructible. Last time I checked, the 747 can't boast indestructibility.


mom said...

but Tyler...



Shadgrimgrvy said...

But nothing!!!

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