A few entries back I mentioned how I'd like to live on an airship. I've been doodling my ideas as to what I'd want… I'm leaning toward ideas based on various kinds of sea creatures, but trying to retain some of that Victorian sense of wonder in technology as well.
The underlying structures have to be quite light of course — although an airship is surprisingly strong. For example, if you had a hundred foot cube of helium, you could lift about 75,000 pounds with it. The design I envision is a slippy organic lifting hull meant to inspire 19th century adventure. The large top is lined with a thin layer of solar panels, with a central condensation channel designed to catch water. Included as well is a small garden system, a roof deck, and a satellite communications pod.
The bottom contains the habitation and operations hull which mimics the shape of the above, although it is much smaller. Off the sides are the fan pods which propel the airship. The front contains a fairly traditional bridge and control room, and the back tapers off into a spacious observation deck which wraps around the sides of the ship. Stylewise it would mimic the Victorian era, but recreated using modern polymers and composite materials for both style and weight.
In utter ignorance of the subject, I estimate that such an airship could be built in a similar price range as a luxury yacht (and would appeal to a similar market). It is designed to be lived on and would be set up for extended tours — it can produce its own water and limited food, and requires limited fuel for operations. Imagine taking a two week “air cruise” at 150 feet over the Amazonian rain forest (or the Arctic, or a desert, the ocean, or wherever strikes your fancy), while online and relaxing in your luxury suite!
Update via newaddict:
The concept of an airship is obviously not new but those who have done some serious work on the idea have been hit by some hard reality. The engineering and construction costs, the ongoing maintenance, international airways and navigation charges mean that it is a phenomenally expensive exercise. Such a aircraft is very susceptible to the weather and low level flights are subject to terrorism (people taking pot shots) and often very restrictive airways and air traffic control limitations. I think reality is a luxury yacht would be far cheaper to purchase and operate and less subject to the catastrophic weather, high tolerance engineering, and international attention.