In 1933, the USS Akron floated along the New Jersey coast, gliding on what it hoped would be warm, gentle eddies.
But, and we can all relate to this I feel, when it passed Barnegat, it encountered a bit of an unexpected storm. Actually, it flew directly into the path of the ‘most violent stormfronts to sweep the North Atlantic States’.
Throughout the active, passenger-conveying life of the airship, stormy skies have prevailed, which is why we have none in the air above us now.
But, that could all change soon, as Hybrid Air Vehicles get ready to launch (or fling, maybe) their Airlander airship into service.
The Airlander will hope it doesn’t become encased in the kind of fog that entrapped the Akron, although one hopes the new craft will be equipped with better (or, any) radar equipment to help navigate through such difficulties.
Not so for the Akron unfortunately, as rain battered the cabin in thunderous torrents, and made the situation increasingly worse for the huge aluminum-framed monster.
Eighty-eight years later, the airship is being reborn, via the Airlander, whose helium-filled balloon will carry around one-hundred passengers, who will hope for more success than some of their predecessors at reaching their destination in the same condition they left in.
Becoming increasingly unstable and shaking and rocking violently, the Akron, also helium-filled by the way, dumped ballast as quickly as it could, while the passengers gripped the cabin sides in understandable panic and terror.
The Goodyear Tire rubberised cotton gasbags of the Akron wobbled, and shuddered, and the engines struggled to keep the ship aloft, and it dipped several times, dangerously close to the ocean surface, before climbing painstakingly slowly upwards in an effort to shake off the tempest.
Stability aboard the Airlander is said to be very much improved from the days of the Akron, though, and it has been built to withstand strong winds, with guaranteed ‘low vibration [and] very little in the way of any turbulence’.
With ninety-percent fewer emissions than an aeroplane, the craft promises a solution to the climate challenge, and will accommodate passengers in ‘big, spacious, accessible cabins’, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, so they can watch the absolutely impotent storms around them.
Passengers in the Akron didn't have that luxury, as every labored climb followed each rocky descent, amid the howling screams of the storm and the passengers, as the ship fought to stay in the air, with the incredible winds that buffered the cabin with unrecorded but unprecedented ferocity.