Vikki Vargas and Lori Bentley
Forget the ocean, a new cruise ship may soon sail through the air
They were the height of luxury travel in the early 20th century.
The Zeppelin's were dirigibles that provided passengers resort style luxury while traveling across the Atlantic from Germany to North America and Brazil.
The explosion of the hydrogen filled Hindenburg brought an end to all of that.
Or did it?
Cycle forward 70 some years, and here we are again.
A company in Tustin is in the process of creating a brand new flying machine, which isn't so new at all.
It's a blimp-like airship called the Aeroscraft, and it's so big it fills half a hanger by itself.
It requires a pilot, but no ground crew, and it can lift off almost like a helium filled balloon.
Engineers are working on a prototype of the by first constructing a five story tall metal frame. It spans 60' wide and more than 80 yards long.
Propellers will guide the giant ship, but it's the lighter than air, safe, helium that makes it unique.
"If you run out of fuel, it's basically like a balloon. You can simply land by using your buoyancy controls system to land anywhere," according to Mansoor Kouchak, Aeroscraft, VP Engineering.
Anywhere could turn out to be a mall parking lot.
The Montebello based company expects to one day be able to move huge cargo loads of goods the size of an entire store.
Engineers also foresee a day when the Aeroscraft could be configured to float at 8,000' with hundreds of well heeled passengers aboard, almost like an aerial cruise ship.
Crossing the country would take about 18 hours.
But the Department of Defense sees another use, ferrying troops and equipment into war zones.
The vertical lift means there would be no need for an airport.
The D.O.D. is funding some of the research and development.
The mylar and fiberglass covering has already been tested with live fire. Bullets did not puncture the synthetic skin.
Developer Igor Pasternak believes the Aeroscraft, nicknamed the Pelican, is the future of large scale transportation.
"Basically changing the way of logistics. It's ability to fly all around the world, and bring cargo of unlimited size," according to Igor Pasternak, CEO of Aeroscraft.
The company expects lift off by 2012.