Jun 13, 2017

China Changing Law of the Air, says new U.S. Ambassador

Scott Brown, new U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, told the Foreign Relations committee that China is changing the Law of the Air.

"New Zealand [is] addressing that region's very serious needs and concerns, especially with regard to China and its expansionism changing the law of the sea and the law of the air — building islands and militarizing them that really just change international law as we've all known them."

In related news, China has launched a swarm of 119 fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles, breaking the previous record of a swarm of 67 drones, according to the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC).

Who are the parties in China interested in passive solar-powered flight, who can help us keep open "bike lanes" in the air?

Article by Joel Gehrke | Jun 8, 2017 | http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/senate-confirms-scott-brown-as-us-ambassador-to-new-zealand/article/2625376 

article by Press Trust of India June 11, 2017 http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/china-launches-record-breaking-drone-swarm-1710763

Nov 26, 2016

Aerocene Hackathon in London

An Aerocene hackathon promises to jump start the entire solar-powered passive flight community.

Tomas Saraceno writes:

Aerocene manifests as a series of air-fuelled sculptures that will achieve the longest, emission-free journey around the world: becoming buoyant only by the heat of the Sun and infrared radiation from the surface of Earth. The sculpture floats without burning fossil fuels, without using solar panels and batteries; and without helium, hydrogen and other rare gases.  Aerocene holds a message of simplicity, creativity and cooperation for a world of tumultuous geopolitical relations,reminding us of our symbiotic relationship with the Earth and all its species.

The hackathon is taking place at the Royal College of London.



Aug 11, 2014

Time Lapse Photography Blimp

In the United States the Goodyear Company is the most well known blimp. Goodyear blimps are a common sight in the skies over stadiums at sporting events in the US, serving as an aerial billboard and television camera platform to provide aerial views. In 2011, Goodyear announced plans to replace the current fleet of GZ-20 class blimps first introduced in 1969 with three new Zeppelin NT airships. Goodyear says this new design will be longer, faster, and more maneuverable than the current fleet, while also being less expensive to operate.

The new airships models are supplied by German zeppelin manufacturer ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik. Zeppelin and Goodyear teams at Goodyear's hangar in Suffield, Ohio, filmed the blimp build in imte lapse photography. Called NT for "New Technology", the blimp is 246.5 ft (75 m) long with an envelope volume of 297,527 cu ft (8,425 cu m).  It can carry nearly 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) more cargo than the current airships in the Goodyear fleet.

Zeppelins are so-called after the Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin who founded his company in 1896. With him, the age of the giant airships began and, in Germany, zeppelins became something of a national obsession. They seemed to possess an almost mythic power: like ‘fabulous silver fish’, said Dr Hugo Eckener, head of Zeppelin from 1917, ‘floating quietly in the ocean of air.’ The ocean of air is a far less dense substance than the ocean of water, so engineering a skin of tension fabric to cover a large lightweight compression skeleton is essential, and my favorite part of this short film is when the envelope made of polyester with DuPont Tedlar film is stretched over each metal truss.

But the noise and racket are terrible. Here is a test flight by the "Flite Test" guys, below. At 4:23 they cut the power and you can hear the silence:

Goodyear, how about a passive blimp lifted by sun-warmed air? Now that's an engineering challenge that will ensure the Goodyear name lives on into the next century.


Goodyear Blimp official site: http://www.goodyearblimp.com/

May 14, 2014

Toy House Takes Flight, Two Young Reluctant Aeronauts Are Injured

A Little Tikes brand "Bounce House" toy took to the air in passive flight on May 14th 2014, along with two young boys ages 5 and 6. Emily Boucher, South Glens Falls New York student, took a photo of a house in phlight, as you can see below:

Don Lehman, Post-star reporter, wrote:
Taylor Seymour, a resident of the apartment building where the accident occurred, said the wind picked the structure up and spun it around as if it was in a small tornado. One boy was thrown 30 or 40 feet northeast onto Ferry Boulevard, the other about 20 feet southeast, landing on the back of Seymour’s car. The bounce house was at least 15 feet off the ground when the boys flew out.
“It was like a horror movie,” she said. “It just kept going up and up. It cleared our building and the trees.”
The wind blew the house more than 50 feet in the air, from in front of a four-apartment complex at 22 Ferry Blvd. to the fields behind Oliver W. Winch Middle School, according to police and the girl’s mother, who spoke on condition her name not be published. The inflatable structure had to clear a large stretch of woods to get to school property.
“My older daughters witnessed it and said it was just horrible,” the girl’s mother said. “A big gust of wind just blew it right off the ground with the kids in it. It’s just sickening.”
The bounce house was owned by a resident of the complex, and it had been set up for neighborhood children. Gifford and the mother of the girl said it was fixed to the ground with stakes, but the wind pulled them out.
 The children were hurt very badly as they fell from the house at various stages of ascent. A sobering reminder that life in the air will require safety exits, parachutes, and other means of descending to the ground safely.

We at "Law of the Air" wish the kids a full recovery.


Post-Star report:  Two boys seriously injured when bounce house is blown into the air by wind

Jul 8, 2013

Skyscraper, Helium Supported

eVolo's 2013 Skyscraper competition received two entires for "flying structures," one supported by hydrogen (H2) gas bags, and another by helium (He2) gas bags. The helium proposal won third prize! Both hydrogen and helium balloons require petroleum-fueled, complex and expensive technological infrastructure, both to produce the gas and the containing membrane, the latter due to the tiny size of the molecules involved. That said, Law of the Air is excited to see such proposals, since aspects of the designs could be used by passive lighter-than-air structures as well.

Hydrogen-Supported Filtration

Hao Tian, Huang Haiyang, and Shi Jianwei’s PH Conditioner Skyscrapers describes structures that soas up damaging acidic pollutants and turns them useful resources while cleaning the air. The designers envisioned the project for Chongqing, which is bordered on three sides by mountains and is heavily polluted from industrial activity resulting in poor air quality and acidification of plants, soil and water. The floating jellyfish structures absorb pollutants from the air, and through a number of internal processes, turn them into beneficial resources for the city.

Floating in the air about 200-300 meters up, the PH Conditioners are located at the best level to absorb pollutants. Hydrogen is used for buoyancy and porous membranes in the air bags take in pollutants and direct them to the core purifier. Nitrogen-fixing microorganisms produce an alkaline substance to neutralize acidic materials into a fertilizer that is released through the tentacles to help plants grow. Leftover purified water is reclaimed and then used for irrigation and other processes. Over time, a city’s air will gradually improve and the resources created by the skyscraper can be used to create a richer and healthier environment through the development of more vegetation. The floating skyscrapers can be transported as necessary to different locations within the city or to other cities in need of fresh air.

Designers' Statement

The project aim to use a gentle way to manage Acid Deposition and eventually turn pollutants into available resources (reclaimed water & chemical fertilizer) for the region of Chongqing.

Produced by the fossil fuel used in abundance, as well as the heavy traffic and industrial production, the SO2&NOx drives the PH value of atmosphere under 5.6. Gradually precipitating to the surface of the earth, these acidic materials have caused great harm to plant, architecture and human beings.
The outbreak of the Industrial Revolution in Europe, since 1750, unavoidably brought severe environmental pollution. The most explicit consequence is the Acid Deposition caused by waste of large-scale industrial production. 
The project is set to be 200-300m high where acidic pollutants gather. The aerocyst filled up with H2 at the top of the building provides buoyancy to it. The porous membrane attached to the air bags can absorb the acidic materials, like acid fog, collect and put them into core purifier where neutralization takes place with alkaline substance produced by nitrogen-fixing microorganism via biological action, which is stored in the purifier center.
Cutaway View
With neutralization, acid pollutants can be transformed into neutral liquid with ammonium salt which will be absorbed by plants attached on tentacle pipelines as green nutrients. The remained liquid will be delivered to the terminal tank as the source of reclaimed water.

Helium-Supported Homes

  A prize was awarded to the innovative skyscraper design presented by Ting Xu and Yiming Chen. “Light Park” describes a floating skyscraper that takes new development within large cities to the sky. The project allows for a continuous growth of the world’s mega-cities by providing adequate infrastructure, housing, commercial, and recreational areas.
Light Park Floating Skyscraper by Ting Xu & Yiming Chen

The Light Park Floating Skyscraper, designed by Ting Xu & Yiming Chen addresses the problem of green and recreation space scarcity within the world’s major urban centers, Light Park proposes a floating multi-platform for a plurality of functions, including parks, green houses, sports fields, restaurants, and exhibition spaces. The various programs of the floating skyscraper are designed to be arrayed around a central core and supported by reinforced steel cables hanging from a massive, helium-filled volume above. This volume provides the necessary buoyancy to float the structure above the bustle of the city below- thus relieving congestion- and is stabilized by a network of solar-powered propellers positioned around the form.

Helium-Supported Sykscraper, Night View
The floor slabs, composed of a variety of shapes and sizes, are positioned around the core to balance the structure and optimize solar exposure to the various levels.

Atop the helium-filled dirigible superstructure are translucent solar collectors and rainwater catchment facilities which provide power and irrigation for the parks and fields below. By virtue of its airborne nature and possession of vast green plantings, the Light Park will provide a powerful source of clean air back to the city which it floats above. 
Helium provides lift and structural support.
Water gathering, collection and distribution plan.
List of advantages


Feb 10, 2013

59 Steps And You Can Fly

Tomas Saraceno, the premiere artist teaching us all the art of phlight, shares now precise DIY instructions to create a hot air balloon from garbage bags that is powered by the sun.

The design was tested in a museum, photos below:

Tomas is distributing a PDF with the instructions, below is the opening text of the PDF. We like the closing four steps, they are at the end of this post:

The design is geodesic, based on the proper placement of pentagons and hexagons. Notice the pentagon 5 rows from the top of the balloon, where the lines converge:

The concept, described by Saraceno as "59 Steps To Be On Air By Sun Power," allows anyone to construct what he calls a "geodesic solar flying machine" using black polyethylene (the stuff used in garbage bags), a car radiator fan, a 12-volt battery, bicycle rims, tape, string, a child safety seat, and a bit of engineering savvy. The contraption is clearly not the safest idea for travel, but it appears that Saraceno's goal was to create a flying machine that puts environmental friendliness ahead of efficiency.

Tomas's site instructions: http://www.tomassaraceno.com/Projects/59Steps.html
Coverage from dvice: http://www.dvice.com/2013-2-1/solar-powered-balloon-lifts-you-sky-garbage-bags

Feb 19, 2012

Drones Approved for US Airspace

The monopoly of air space by large commercial heavier-than-air craft cracked a little this week, when the USA's FAA approved us of airspace up to 400 feet for drone use. These drones vary from military models costing $400K to home made rotors--more about the military models at the end of this post.

But first, an Atlantic Society of Radio Control Modellers meeting flying a

According to the N. Y. Times,
Under the new law, within 90 days, the F.A.A. must allow police and first responders to fly drones under 4.4 pounds, as long as they keep them under an altitude of 400 feet and meet other requirements. The agency must also allow for “the safe integration” of all kinds of drones into American airspace, including those for commercial uses, by Sept. 30, 2015. And it must come up with a plan for certifying operators and handling airspace safety issues, among other rules.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups may protest the new law citing ever-increasing "routine aerial surveillance of American life.” Yes, that is a concern, but innovation with small accelerometers, electric motors and cameras sounds like healthy innovation to me.

Here is a Microsoft Kinect sensor guided drone:

Passive flight enthusiasts should be greatly encouraged that hobbyist activity and small business activity can bring about a change in the FAA rules. Oh, wait, there is the military-industrial connection.

With the winding-down of the war in Afghanistan, where drones have been used to gather intelligence and fire missiles, these manufacturers have been awaiting lucrative new opportunities at home. The market for drones is valued at $5.9 billion and is expected to double in the next decade, according to industry figures. Drones can cost millions of dollars...
Many organizations are gearing up for this type of business; one sign is the opening of generic "spam" web portals such as UAVM.com, where they write

In the very near future, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will become Standard Tools for a wide variety of Civil Engineering, Precision Agricultural, Livestock and Land Management, Industrial, and Homeland Security, Industrial Security, Police-Fire as well as for many other Commercial Applications not currently serviced or serviced by manned aircraft.
The passive flight community may find such motorized drones to be pests some day, but it is encouraging that the airspace is being shared. I assume that the military use of lighter than air vehicles will also make an impact.

New York Times article on the new FAA rule,
ASRCM website, http://www.asrcm.ns.ca/
UAVM.com generic site: http://www.uavm.com/uavmarketspace.html