- Dr. Timothy X. Merritt
Race for the New Kingdom in the Sky - Part 3
Next Golden Era of Airship Aviation:
There are many disaster relief logistics networks that would be excited to leverage the unique capabilities of hybrid airships. The Canadian-based Global Aid Network expresses their desire this way; “we strive to innovatively link individuals and groups worldwide, sourcing critical commodities and mobilizing people for an effective response” (GAiN 2020). This sentiment is echoed by the American Logistics Aid Network that specializes in “bringing the expertise and resources of the logistics industry together with non-profit disaster relief organizations so that we can help solve their most pressing supply chain challenges immediately after disasters strike” (ALAN 2020). Both of these logistics platforms seek to connect those with resources to those in need.
When a devastating earthquake struck Ecuador in 2016, logistics and supply-chain companies were able to do support those injured and rendered homeless (Buxbaum, 2016); imagine the speed and efficiency relief supplies could have been delivered if the capacities of hybrid airships were available to circumvent the choked airports and to pass over the ruined transportation infrastructure effortlessly. In time, the enormous goodwill generated by these types of high visibility missions would draw the attention of serious investors.
The next golden era of airship aviation will emerge with the construction of massive hybrids capable of transporting over 500 tons of cargo. Until that day arrives, the future of the airship industry will likely be characterized by a tumultuous mix of entities with blurred boundaries between many partners and sectors. One thing all of today’s airship designers share is a vision of “magnificent amounts of trucking going on in the sky—regular convoys of enormous airships carrying timber, coal, wind turbines, prefabricated homes, or an entire summer harvest, puttering gently along at about a hundred miles an hour, ten thousand feet over our heads” (Laskas, 2016). To achieve this vision, airship organizations should dedicate resources now to build alliances with natural disaster logistics operations if they hope to win the race for the new kingdom in the sky.
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