Airships – You Know It Makes Sense

I hate flying. Flying on commercial passenger jets that is. Such planes are horrible, claustrophobic, smelly, unsafe, fragile tin-cans that hurtle through the sky at stupid speeds eight miles up. They are flown by companies seeking to cut corners at every opportunity and are making a complete mess of our environment – much more so than our cars or empty cornflake packets.

A few years ago I flew to Los Angeles from London for the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo and both ways it was just crap – hot, smelly, turbulent, crap. Admittedly a lot of my problems with flying stem from a lack of control, but even discounting this the experience of long-haul flight is just rubbish. Being rattled around in a tin can miles in the sky is frightening enough – but when the airline is too cheap to give you decent air to breath it makes matters worse.

When I returned from LA I promised I was never going to fly again. But that was not wholly true. I will be quite happy to fly across the Atlantic again when we do the sensible thing and bring back airships.

The major plus point for me when it comes to airships is their whole not being too heavy to fly-ness. Airships like to fly, you have to wrestle them back to the ground. I feel that if I was to trust my life to something in the sky it would be to a device to which flying came naturally. I’d rather sit in a chair powered by a thousand pigeons than one powered by ten thousand hang-gliding water voles.

While many military aircraft are named erroneously after birds of prey the 747 has a more honest name – Jumbo – as it has all the flying qualities of an elephant. Boeing 747s shouldn’t really fly, they only do because of the ridiculous (and extremely heavy) engines bolted to them. Switch the engines off and they float down to earth with all the grace of my good self on a Centre Parks water slide.

An airship will fly away if you let it. Engines are needed not only to get it to go in the direction you want, but also to get it to come down. If the engines fail in an airship we’d just have to collect some rainwater up there to make it a little heavier so we can come back down. And not in a ballistic trajectory.

You may say airships are a pretty slow way to get around – compared to a 747 that’s true. But a modern luxury Atlantic airship would be much faster than an ocean going cruise liner. In August 1936 the Hindenburg crossed the Atlantic from Lakehurst New Jersey to Frankfurt in 43 hours. I’m convinced we with the same effort we put into airliners today we could create an airship that would half that journey time. And be much less explodey.

Airships are safer than planes, gentler, less polluting, quieter and generally a more genteel way of getting around. There’s also a heck of a lot more room, room to walk around, sit and have a cocktail by the piano, or to punch a Nazi in the face and throw him onto a pile of suitcases.

While people still talk about why we haven’t got our own flying cars yet think of the possibilities of our own personal airships instead. Parking would not be an issue. We would just tie our vehicle up outside our house like some kind of floaty horse, that would bobble around above the roof. And there wouldn’t be dangerous accidents, a ten airship pile-up would just be like a bunch of fat people fighting over a Twix, with just lots of bouncing and swearing but no real harm done.

So please folks, forget jet engines, smelly tin cans and selfish speedy air transport. Let’s make this the century of the airship. You know it makes sense.