I'm Sorry, But What The HECK Are Blimps?

There are so many things in this world that just really do not make sense. I have decided that in an effort to better understand the world around us, I'm going to start writing about things that do not compute. First up: Blimps.

To truly understand blimps, we must first understand aerodynamics. I know, big scary word, but hold on! Don't leave yet. It's actually really simple. When you boil it all down, aerodynamics is just the way air moves around objects. For something to be aerodynamic, it has to counteract gravity, create lift, and minimize drag; which is all just to say it has to be able to be supported by air in a physical way. I was never good with physics, so this NASA article really helped dumb it down for me.

The reason planes can fly is because they are perfectly engineered to do all the before mentioned things and are able to be supported by and move through the air. But Blimps are a whole different story, right? Kind of. Planes create lift by moving its wings up and down, but blimps create lift using gas. Essentially, blimps are a combination airplane and helicopter with the body of a hot air balloon.

All I know about blimps is that they are all owned by Goodyear and that one time in the 1930's one exploded and it was a big deal. But let's dive deeper. How can a blimp explode? Can I own a blimp? Who thought that was a practical thing to create? How big are blimps, really?

First off, let's answer how blimps can explode. Remember when I said they create lift using gas? That's how they can explode. Blimps are filled with helium, which is extremely flammable. The Hindenburg, that one that exploded in 1937, killed almost everyone around when a spark combusted the hydrogen in the envelope (the big part). This led to the transition from hydrogen to helium, but then why use helium? Well, because it's lighter than air, an important feature to have when you're trying to float.

So then why are blimps practical? For one thing, blimps can go 70 miles per hour, which compared to an airplane is literally nothing. It would take a blimp 5 hours to go the same distance a plane could go in one. That is crazy and probably why blimps are not the main form of air travel. For another thing, helium is rare. It's found deep in the earth and the helium shortage is a really complex issue right now. So having a mode of transportation that relies on an unreliable source is maybe not the best idea. (Not to throw shade at planes, trains, and cars, but fossil fuels are not great either so we should probably figure that out soon) From the few things I know about blimps, the only conclusion I can come to is that they are, in no way, practical. Not even in the slightest.

All of this decided, I still wonder the practicality of owning a blimp. I did some digging and I found a 36-foot remote-control blimp for sale on Etsy for $11,000, but in terms of actual blimps, there was a lack of information on google. I did find this CNN article from 2015 about the possibility of a personal blimp future, but I don't know how practical it is seeing as we're almost five years past that article and I still don't own a blimp.

All in all, I still have no idea what blimps are or why they were ever conceived. All I know is that I still have a lot of questions about the workings of our world and the things we have thought into existence, so expect to see many more "what the heck" articles in the future.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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