Image credit: Carangifoil
Not too long ago I looked at examples of 6 incredible low-carbon airships, speculating on whether we would ever see long-distance travel in lighter-than-air vehicles again. But while the rebirth of the modern Zeppelin proves that these vehicles are indeed feasible, most current applications are for much less ambitious, unmanned projects. The Windcrafter "Carangifoil" airship is no exception. For now...Using what it describes as "patented carangifoil technology", the windcrafter blimps are clearly being currently targeted for use as indoor lighter-than-air vehicles of the kind used as both advertising platforms and camera mounts in major stadiums. Offering, the makers claim, better stability, aerodynamics and maneuverability, as well as an increased surface area for advertising and other messaging, it does look like an interesting design.
But as far as we TreeHuggers are concerned, we'll get really interested when it can move people or goods around. A flying billboard is, after all, still a billboard. I've yet to find a website for Windcraft that offers more details about long term plans, but an interview with the developers of Windcraft and carangifoil technology in the Seattle Times from back in 2004 suggest that the vehicles could theoretically reach 300mph, and that a a 200-foot-high version could carry 46,000 pounds—more than enough to carry heavy goods or people. (Remote logging is suggested as an early application—something that we TreeHuggers will doubtless have mixed feelings about.)