July 12, 2010
By Alton K. Marsh
After 80 years, blimps are getting a revival from the military. A U.S. Navy blimp built by the same company that built Snoopy for MetLife is currently spotting oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
When its job there is done, it will be fitted with a DeltaHawk turbo diesel engine for testing. The engine, already mounted in a pod and ready for installation, was built at the factory in Racine, Wis. If successful, the Navy may buy additional engines for blimp surveillance. DeltaHawk will show the actual engine at EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh. Other branches of the military also are looking for blimps that can perform 20-day missions for surveillance.
DeltaHawk engines are could be certified as soon as 2011. They offer the Navy a chance to increase the flying time of the blimp now in the Gulf from 21 hours to 90 hours. The company has flown one of its engines on a Velocity aircraft for a dozen years.
Environmental groups are asking the EPA to take another look at avgas even as a government-industry program moves closer to finding unleaded alternatives.
Collaboration between the German government, academia, and airplane manufacturers may make future aircraft cabins more protective of pilots and passengers. The Safety Box team plans to apply auto racing technology to general aviation.
A father and his 14-year-old son were helping another pilot ferry a newly purchased aircraft from California to their home field in Virginia. The three made an overnight stop in Albuquerque before flying on to Illinois for fuel. But shortly after they parked the aircraft in Marion, Ill., they were approached by as many as 18 uniformed and non-uniformed law enforcement officers who came running toward the airplane.
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