Why bother with the rush of getting in an airplane, getting packed in like cattle and be cramped in seats. Todays modern airplane travel focus's on the destination; perhaps the travel of tomorrow will focus on the destination. And perhaps there is no better way of travelling than on a blimp (dirigible, zeppelin, airship)! The main company building peacetime airtravel is Aeroscraft. Here is an excerpt from popsci about this ship:
This two-football-fields-long concept airship is the brainchild of Igor Pasternak, whose privately-funded California firm, Worldwide Aeros Corporation, is in the early stages of developing a prototype and expects to have one completed by 2010. Pasternak says several cruise ship companies have expressed interest in the project, and for good reason: The craft would have a range of
several thousand miles and, with an estimated top speed of 174 mph, could traverse the continental U.S. in about 18 hours. During the flight, passengers would peer at national landmarks just 8,000 feet below or, if they weren't captivated
by the view, the cavernous interior would easily accommodate such amenities as luxury staterooms, restaurants, even a casino.
Here is a video:
More links to this flying ship:
In addition, the miltary also has interests in Airship Travel, as this GizMag Story articulates about anAeros Aeronautical Systems project:
Moving an elephant atom by atom costs a lot more than moving the elephant in one pre-assembled lump. And that is what the US Army’s Project Walrus is about – putting together an entire action unit of war machinery, with all the wiring and plumbing preinstalled, and placing it in the most strategic place.
In addition Aeros Aeronautical Systems, is getting a bit of competition from Lockheed:
The Skunk Works had secretly built the craft and hoped for a quiet first flight at its Palmdale, Calif., facility, but a few passers-by noticed the strange object in the sky.
The Defense Dept. is showing interest in two categories of airships--those that can carry large cargo at low altitude, exemplified by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) Walrus program, and those that can operate in high-altitude low-wind conditions and remain on station for long periods of time. The configuration of the Skunks Works ship indicates it is the former--a hybrid heavy-load carrier.
Final below is concept for London-based art director Tino Schaedler and designer, Michael J Brown "Strato Cruiser", a "a space-age style helium filled airship where guests can eat gourmet food, enjoy all the benefits of a spa and request tunes from a resident dj."
Another great conceptual blimp is the 'manned cloud' by Jean-Marie Massaud, also dubbed the 'whale blimp'. From the website:
The whale-shaped airship, developed with French national aerospace research body ONERA, will be able to accommodate 40 guests and have a range of 5,000 km.
Manned Cloud will have a cruising speed of 130 km/h and a top speed of 170 km/h. Two two-deck cabin will contain amenities including a restaurant, a library, a fitness suite and a spa. There will also be a sun deck on top of the double helium-filled envelopes.
Here are some pics: