Ah, the airship. Tracing its humble origins back to the first hot air balloon flight in 1783, and soon becoming a popular novelty, they transformed into a silent menace during the First World War, before being ousted in favour of planes – the latter being faster, more efficient, safer and simply better. Right?
Well, not according to Professor Sir David King, formerly chief scientific advisor to the government, who stated during the World Forum on Enterprise and Environment that blimps will eventually replace planes as the international standard for transporting freight. This conference, which focuses on global efforts to combat climate change, has identified transport as a crucial area in which carbon emissions must be lowered, as 22% of greenhouse gases emitted in Europe are currently from transport – higher than both industry and construction put together.
Unlikely as it might sounds there appears to be a certain amount of support for the initiative. King claims that multiple air companies, including Boeing, are working on designs with the idea that blimps could be put into use “within a decade”, in part thanks to a recent grant from the US defence department for the development of blimp technology as an eco-friendly initiative. A suggestion has been made that blimps could even be used for commercial transport, as they have the potential to carry many more passengers than a standard commercial airplane and can travel up to 78 miles per hour. Anyone fancy a (reasonably) quick blimp to Barcelona?
An article on the subject, which appeared in the Guardian on the 30th June, caused a fair bit of scepticism amongst the newspaper’s readership. As one contributor on the comment boards, Gelion, says, “You would be crazy to have a holiday aboard a Blimp, let alone have them creeping around the country ‘silently’. One imagines dear old ladies suddenly dying as the blimps creep up behind them unawares”
Another, Chuffy, agrees. “I can’t see Samuel L Jackson starring in Snakes on a Blimp somehow” he writes.