Saturday, January 23, 2010

Airships - Is the Time Near for Retro-Technolgy to Take Off?

Is a sight like this in the future of Manitoba's Interlake and northern communities?

Something I have always been interested in is the idea of using refined versions of old technologies in our present day. One such concept is the use of the Lighter Than Air craft (LTA).

The basic technology employed in LTA craft has not changed since day one of the invention.
What has changed over the years is the supporting technology to make them stronger, more reliable and more adaptable for numerous uses. I think the possiblities are barely seen by most of the advocates of the LTA.

There are a number of initiatives around the world to launch variations of the LTA with the main promoters being the groups that have invested in the manufacture of the craft.

Here's one outfit that has big plans ASE

Another group that calls itself Environmental Logistics Corp. is seeking support from the community of St. Laurent MB in order to establish an operating base. Their idea seems to be that LTAs could be used to transport year round to remote communities and that the Interlake town would make a good jumping off point.

Who knows? This idea may have merit.

Although, from what I have read they are pretty vague about details of the operation and their ability to move their plans forward and from what I can see haven't been able to set up as much as a web site so far.... I'd like to see this project move.

What worries me a lot about these things is that such self styled entrepreneurs always seem to be going around with cap in hand. I understand from first hand experience what it is like to get financing and other formas of support to launch a new business BUT I find it raises cautionary flags whenever I see the first steps revolving around some public hand out. I suppose that for a community like St. Laurent there is little jeopardy in signing a commitment to approve development of land, setting land aside and even agreeing to local tax breaks for a new business to come to their area. Now we need to see just how serious the pitch men are about their business ideas.

Blair Sherwood, president of Environmental Logistics Corp., spoke to the St. Laurent Community Development Corporation Nov. 16 about the possibility of building an airship hangar in the RM this past week and had this to say about the project, from an article printed in the Interlake Spectator

"I think it went over fairly well," said Sherwood. "I'm awaiting a letter of support from the council and CDC so I can go to the next step. Once we have that, we can seriously look at different investment options for major investors. Without local written support, we'll have to look at other locations."

"The intention is to serve northern Manitoba as a substitute transportation for ice roads, which are becoming less reliable," said CDC president Tammy Terrance.

"I believe the ramifications for the area to be huge, not only in jobs, but worldwide recognition as the place where the industrial cargo airship industry took off, if you'll excuse the pun...."

"With the lake, relatively short distance to a major aerospace centre and the airspace in and around St. Laurent having few if any restrictions, it allows future development of this industry there...."

"If we get the letters of support, then we can seriously complete our fundraising,"

Good Luck I say.

BUT ... I'd be a lot more hopeful of a successful result if you could show some interest by those who would actually be paying for the service and other business groups who could make use of the LTA craft and operations to launch or enhance their own ventures.

Without such market support, at least in the form of interest shown, I see little hope for a successful enterprise. After all that is what investors really want to know.... do you know your market, how sure is it and how big is it???

It would also be reassuring to know that your plans did not hinge on flakey environmental dogma like the proposition that Ice Roads are going to be less reliable as time goes on. As was asserted by the Community Development Corp. rep for the region.

Get your ducks in a row people!

Oh yes! and get your head out of the clouds ... German Failure back at it...


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Blogger talnik said...

We have quite a number of gasbags down here.

1/23/2010 4:00 p.m.  
Blogger OMMAG said...

Heheh!! Good one...

1/23/2010 5:11 p.m.  
Blogger Fenris Badwulf said...

Are you getting into that Steampunk thing? They like airships, too.

1/24/2010 1:22 a.m.  
Blogger Darrell Campbell said...

CDC would do well to take a look at what happened with CargoLifter in Germany. Government backed investment; huge hangar built with about 25% of the $300 Million raised; no airships ready,built, nor bought ahead of all the investment; and bankruptcy.

"hangar" is a bad, bad, bad word re: airships. If you hear anyone saying it, walk away. They have no idea how to create an economicaly viable airship program.

1/24/2010 5:44 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There definitely is a market but , you need more than renderings to prove your concept.

Get some money, build the ariship, prove its capabilities and government money will flow.

1/24/2010 6:38 a.m.  
Blogger Lost Johnny said...

Delivering supplies to the the remote rez's...not a bad idea. But first you will have to make them bullet proof....

1/24/2010 10:28 a.m.  
Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

Ahhh Happy Sunday my friend!:)

1/24/2010 10:45 a.m.  
Blogger OMMAG said...

Steampunk ... Not "into" so much as interested ... there are some very cool motorcycles done in the style.

Hangar etc.... that's sort of how I feel about it. too many hands out for ... handouts... and too little proof of concept. The Dragons would burn these guys!

1/24/2010 2:58 p.m.  

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