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I understand that a major problem with blimps, baloons, and zeppelins is that their round profile gives them a lot of drag, making them susceptible to winds pushing them. What I propose is a lighter-than-air aircraft in the shape of a flying wing, so that it has a slim profile and wouldn't be pushed
around so much by air.
It would have to be pretty big to have a cabin big enough to hold a decent amount of people, and to store enough gas to overcome the smaller volume ratio that a flying wing has versus a spherical shape.
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, May 14 2009]
Stingray by Prospective Concepts
Baked, alas(ka) [BunsenHoneydew, May 17 2009]
jet powered blimp idea [theircompetitor, May 17 2009]
||I think the problems would greatly out-weigh the benefits.
For example, the wingspan (etc) required to give a reasonable lifting volume (ie. comparable to a standard airship) would be ridiculously huge, and so to transfer the lifting force to the (presumably) central cabin would need good rigidity = heavy.
If I remember my fluid dynamics correctly (doubtful) the standard shape is quite aerodynamic, but because the body is more flexible (and large) it is difficult to push it to any great speed.
<flash of possibility...> if the wing was mounted vertically, with the cabin at one wingtip (or distributed inside), and engines distributed along (up) the length (height) of the wing, it might actually achieve something.
||The drag is [a number describing the form's drag]x[the actual size of the form], roughly. Airships are a optimized in the first departement, so their huge drag is because of their size. Altering the form in any way will give it worse drag, quite certainly - specifically altering the form away from circular will increase the hull/volume ratio, making it heavier.
||Perfect for hull/volume ratio would be a sphere (circular in all three dimensions), perfect for drag would be something drop-shaped (which is still circular in one dimnesion), current designs are somewhere in the middle.
||Wing-shapes perfect the drag/lift ratio, but in a LTA vehicle there is no need for extra lift, so there is no reason for a wing-shape.
||The wing can be made semi-rigid, such that if lift were lost it could safely glide to earth.