Skyacht Aircraft Alberto
Since 2002 Skyacht Aircraft, Inc. has been developing Personal Blimp.The Personal Blimp uses hot air for lift and silent electric motors for propulsion. Initial flight tests are using a conventional gas-powered motor. Electric motors will be added once these initial tests are complete. Similarly, the initial flight tests are being made with conventional hot air balloon burners. Quiet burners were to be added later.The Personal Blimp flies "low, slow, and smooth."
The Personal Blimp hull structure has three main components: 1) the fabric envelope, 2) a set of flexible ribs embedded within the fabric, and 3) a tensioning line that runs along the central axis of the hull.
The hull is a "tension structure" wherein the ribs are under compression and the fabric and tensioning line are under opposing tension.
What is new and different about the Personal Blimp hull design is the ease with which one can create a lightweight, sturdy, self-supporting (no fans required) airship envelope.
The fabric of the envelope has several continuous, tubular sleeves sewn into it running from nose to tail. The ribs are inserted into the sleeves. The ends of the ribs are held together at each end. The tensioning line is then connected between the two ends and the whole contraption is inflated by pulling on the tensioning line. As the tensioning line is made shorter the ribs are forced to bend or "bow" outward. The envelope continues to expand until eventually the fabric is pulled taut.
Different shapes can be designed by varying the composition and/or cross section of ribs along their length. For instance, making the ribs more flexible towards the nose gives a blunter shape to the front of the ship. Relatively stiffer ribs can also be used to get a longer, skinnier shape.
When not in use, the Personal Blimp can be deflated and folded for storage. The combination of ready buoyancy control and rapid deflation eliminates not only hangars but also the large ground crews.
The Personal Blimp has a rigid, but folding, skeleton to allow the envelope to retain its shape without requiring internal air pressurization. Patent (USPTO #6,793,180) for this unique structural design in September of 2004. The Personal Blimp's rigid but foldable structure provides hardpoints at strategic locations (e.g. on the tail) for mounting systems such as the engine and propeller. With the engine/propeller mounted on the tail, the Personal Blimp can use vectored thrust for steering. This provides far greater maneuverability.
Since its first flight on October 27, 2006, the Alberto has completed more than 50 hours of flight testing. Work focuses on both refining its systems and further expanding its capabilities.
Engine: 20 hp
Length: 102 Feet
Diameter: 70 Feet
Maximum Weight: 4,100 pounds
Size in Flight: 205,000 cubic feet
Size When Deflated/Folded: 1,500 cubic feet
Envelope - Nylon Fabric over Aluminium Ribs
Car, Nose and Tail Cones - Welded Steel Framework
Lifting Gas: Hot Air
Cruise Speed: 10 mph