The enormous Lockheed P-791 airship - video

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The enormous Lockheed P-791 airship - video

Fascinating, the enormous Lockheed P-791 airship. The P-791 is an experimental aerostatic/aerodynamic hybrid airship developed by Lockheed-Martin corporation.

The first flight of the P-791 was made on 31 January 2006 at the company's flight test facility on the Palmdale Air Force Plant 42.

The P-791 is an example of a hybrid airship. In such designs, part of the weight of the craft and its payload are supported by aerostatic (buoyant) lift and the remainder is supported by aerodynamic lift.

The combination of aerodynamic and aerostatic lift is an attempt to create a craft that is a "best of both worlds" combination with the high speed of aerodynamic craft and the lifting capacity of aerostatic craft.

Critics of the hybrid approach have labeled it as being the "worst of both worlds" in that such craft require a runway for take-off and landing, are difficult to control and protect on the ground, and have relatively poor aerodynamic performance.

Proponents of hybrid designs claim that these shortcomings can be overcome through advanced technologies. In particular, it has been proposed that the use of various buoyancy control mechanisms can minimize or in some cases eliminate the need for a runway.

Since the new ships can make themselves heavier than air on demand - and Lockheed Martin's P-791 had air-cushion feet that could be put into reverse to suck the ship down to the ground - they are far easier to handle than the classic airship, and don't need to take on ballast as they discharge cargo.

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By netchicken: posted on 8-2-2009

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