The 12 second flight of the world’s first heavier-than-air powered vehicle in 1904 heralded the birth of a new transport mode. In the days, months, and years following that event, it must have been evident that airplanes had a future, but not its shape and extent. The first propeller driven airship was flown 50 years earlier than the Wright Brothers airplane in 1852 i. A century and a half later, we may be about to witness the birth, or rebirth, of airships as a transport mode. For airships, it is not like the day after Kitty Hawk, but it almost could be. Except infrequently as billboards, camera platforms and novelty tours, commercial uses for large airships ended with the Hindenburg disaster, three quarters of a century earlier. For decades, the memory of the Hindenburg catastrophe, as well as technological advances in heavier-than-air flight, trucking, and maritime transport conspired to make the airship seem a slow, cumbersome, and ultimately tragic detour in the history of transportation. More recently, however, interest has been renewed in airships due to technological developments in a number of fields; including materials science, engines, weather forecasting, avionics and computer assisted design. With improved performance and cos
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