30 April 2007
Thanks to Sig Geist!
Zeppelin Museum receives rare award
Submitted by Sig Geist, Mendenhall, PA
On April 22, 2007 Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen was awarded
the rare title "FAI-Recommended-Museum" by the "Federation
Aeronautique Internationale" (FAI). Worldwide,
only 24 museums have been honored this way. The title
is indicative of outstanding collections in aviation and
especially valuable exhibitions that further educate the
public, but especially the young people in the area of air
and space travel. Over the years the Zeppelin Museum
has drawn attention to itself through a series of exhibitions
on the history of aviation. FAI, founded 1905 in Paris
is an international, non-governmental, non-profit organization
that worldwide organizes and coordinates activities in the
areas of air and space travel in some 100 member countries.
05 April 2007
Thanks to Sig Geist!
„News from Friedrichshafen“
Composed and submitted by Sig Geist, Mendenhall, PA
Photographs © ZLT
Zeppelin NT to measure atmosphere
Hauling out prior to Test Flight,
Friedrichshafen © ZLT
By way of a mid-March 2007 press information, Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik
(ZLT) announced the successful completion of further test
flights with its mission-modified Zeppelin NT. The airship
will be used as an aerial platform to measure the lower
atmosphere during a 10-day period in July 2007. The project
will be carried out in cooperation with Juelich Research
Institut fuer Chemie und Dynamik der
Geosphaere. The project goal are
tests — never before carried out — for the distribution of
trace gases and radicals in the lowermost layers of the atmosphere.
Specifically for this mission, Zeppelin NT was equipped for
the first time with a top-mounted platform accommodating
an extensive array of measuring devices. Support
for the platform load is provided by the airship's internal
framework. Capturing multi-directional wind currents,
a slender boom (see photos) was installed
in the nose of the cabin. Altogether, for the test flights
Zep NT was fitted with 600 kilogram (1,320 lbs.) worth
of measuring equipment and an extra eight kilowatt of
Start of Test Flight,
Friedrichshafen © ZLT
part of the above press information ZLT noted that together
with Juelich's Research Center they are not only entering
technologically new ground, but also new areas in the field
of climate research. Declared ZLT's development manager: "Our test flights have demonstrated
that Zeppelin NT's 'Platform' mode offers a suitable
infrastructure for this and additional complex demands. Preparations
for deployment in July went well".
The press information concluded by stating the above
tests are an integral part of the TRACKS Project. For
additional info, see the article Zeppelin
NT, a new Platform for Atmospheric Studies in the Planetary
Boundary Layer where the whole report
may also be downloaded as a 8.5MB PDF document.
01 February 2007
Thanks to Rick Zitarosa!
U.S. Navy MZ-3A airship #167811 assigned to Squadron VX-20
LTAV Detachment NAES Lakehurst, NJ has the call sign "WaterBug
811" and the pilots (two civilian, two Navy) have individual
call signs reflecting the initials of the " L*T*A*V" (Lighter
Than Air Vehicle) Unit:
They are currently taking advantage of any/all flying
opportunities that the weather affords. Navy airships
in the 1940's and 1950's used to operate frequently in
bad winter weather. Since
this airship is a modified commercial model and they are
still in the "Test/Training" phase have decided
to move forward cautiously with the ship usually
housed in the hangar well in advance of snow, ice
or high wind warnings.
30 January 2007
Thanks to Jim Smith!
Diamonds from above: How a Zeppelin could hunt for gems
in the north
Nathan Vanderklippe in Vancouver, Financial Post
The world's biggest diamond producer wants to use an airship
that's nearly as long as a football field to slowly float
over Canada's tundra and muskeg to discover diamonds in the
remotest corners of the North.
A 75-metre-long helium-filled Zeppelin could do the work
of 50 ground crews, De Beers Canada Inc. president Jim Gowans
said yesterday. The company has already put serious thought
into how the plan would work, from shipping it across the
Atlantic in the hold of a steamliner to housing it in a massive
hangar to protect it from Arctic winds.
De Beers, which is accelerating production schedules for
some of its mines and is planning a hefty increase to its
Canadian exploration budget this year, has had considerable
success since it began using the system in Africa in 2005.
Mr. Gowans said it has proven to be three to four times
more effective at peeking beneath the Earth's surface than
a competing technology used by BHP Billiton Plc., owner of
the Northwest Territories Ekati mine.
To see if it would work in Canada, a Zeppelin advance party
travelled to the Northwest Territories, Manitoba and northern
Ontario last year.
"We've just recently got a report back that says it
would be feasible to do it. So now we're trying to figure
out how to do that and the costs that are involved," said
The new-model Zeppelin's slow speed and vibration-free stability
give it a significant advantage over helicopters and aircraft,
which are both commonly used in exploration. Using a proprietary
De Beers sensor suite, the Zeppelin can detect hints of diamond
presence up to 250 metres below the surface by measuring
minute changes in Earth's gravitational pull.
Most gravity measurements have until now been made by crews
hauling delicate instrumentation across the North's often-rugged
terrain. The Zeppelin works much faster.
"If you can imagine trundling over the snow with this
instrument versus gliding over it in an airship, that gives
you an understanding," said De Beers Canada exploration
vice-president Martin Doyle.
However, it would take at least a year to build an airship
for use in Canada -- the company's African model is too busy
covering 10,000 square kilometres a year in Botswana to make
the flight here -- and the significant hangar infrastructure
needed may keep the project from ever leaving the ground.
The company is nevertheless boosting its exploration spending
to $47.5-million this year, a 50% increase over 2006, and
Mr. Gowans said De Beers has accelerated its construction
schedule for both its Snap Lake and Victor projects, each
of which could ship their first diamonds several months ahead
of schedule. Snap Lake, located 220 kilometres northeast
of Yellowknife, was set to begin production in October, 2007;
Victor, 90 kilometres east of Attawapiskat, Ont., a year
Each mine will cost about $1-billion to build, and together
they will produce two million carats a year.
In its search for more rich deposits, De Beers has already
taken samples from 40% of Canada's most prospective diamond
The Zeppelin could be an ideal way to search the unexplored
remnants, said Mr. Gowans, who also said he expects more
big finds in Canada, which already produces $1.6-billion
of diamonds a year.
"There's some still outstanding areas," he said. "I
just keep looking at the Precambrian shield and saying, well
there's 1.5-million square miles in the N.W.T. and if we've
covered it all I'd be surprised."
firstname.lastname@example.org © National Post 2007
Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division
of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
30 January 2007
Thanks to Jim Smith!
Has All the Helium Gone?
by Leslie Theiss,
Manager, BLM Amarillo (TX) Field Office
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a major supplier of
crude helium to refiners in the United States, who market
and sell pure helium throughout the world. Managing
the nation’s "federal helium reserve" was
a quiet federal program until 2006 when temporary shortages
made news around the world.
For 350 days last year, the BLM’s crude helium enrichment
facility was operating at full capacity, supplying more than
6 million cubic feet a day or 2.1 billion cubic feet per
As demand for helium is rising, supplies of crude helium
are tightening. Our agency’s role in helping
meet the demand by refiners is expanding even though ‘our’ crude
is sold at a Congressionally mandated price that is higher
than most private sources of crude.
We knew helium hit the big time last fall when Jay Leno included
a joke in his monologue that went something like this:
The American Helium Association announced there’s a
shortage of helium until December. In fact there might not
be enough helium for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
When asked why there was shortage they responded by saying
(in a high pitched voice) “We have no idea.”
[BLM disclaimer: Inhaling helium is not a good idea. Because
helium is less dense than air, inhaling it creates the potential
for collapsed lungs. Really.]
Besides its use in party balloons, helium is essential for
things that require its unique properties – its inertness,
its incredibly low "boiling point" and its high
thermal conductivity. Helium is used to pressurize
liquid propellants used by the space shuttle and in the semiconductor/computer
chip manufacturing process. Liquid helium is used to
cool magnets used in MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) equipment.
Sounds boring until you need it.
Helium was pretty much unknown before the twentieth century. It
was first discovered in natural gas in 1903 when an exploratory
well in Kansas produced a gas that "refused" to
burn. The only economical source of helium is from natural
gas, and some of the richest sources are under the Panhandle
BLM's Crude Helium Enrichment Facility near Amarillo, Texas.
The facility provides crude helium to refiners that suply
about about 40% of U.S. helium production.
A federal helium program was created in 1925 to ensure that
the gas would be available to the government for defense
needs. Over time, it evolved into a program to supply
the government with refined helium for research and aerospace
By the 1990s, the demand for helium by the private sector
was ballooning and far surpassed government needs. Congress
decided that the feds didn’t need to be in the business
of supplying refined helium to U.S. users.
The Helium Privatization Act of 1996 redefined the program’s
mission as operating a crude helium storage reservoir and
pipeline system, and providing crude helium (enriched to
about 80 percent helium) to private refiners.
So why is the United States facing supply disruptions and
The short answer is that demand is up and several overseas
helium plants that were expected to be up and running in
2006 were delayed and down. Throw in things like the
New Year’s storm in Kansas and Oklahoma that damaged
power lines to two major refiners, and scheduled plant maintenance
at other U.S. helium facilities, and Houston, we have a problem.
So what about the BLM — are we holding up our end of
Our Cliffside Gas Field, 15 miles northwest of Amarillo,
serves as the government’s reserve for helium. The
field and BLM’s helium enrichment plant supply crude
helium used in about 40 percent of U.S. helium production – and
almost 35 percent of the world’s helium production.
The BLM is selling and delivering more helium than ever before
but supplies remain tight. We took our helium enrichment
plant down for several days last summer when a compressor
failed, and 10 days for annual plant maintenance in November,
temporarily reducing deliveries of crude helium to refiners
on the pipeline. BLM also had to reduce deliveries
of crude helium during the week of January 15, 2007, when
its plant experienced an unexpected shut down due to severe
However, for 350 days last year, the BLM’s crude helium
enrichment facility was operating at full capacity, supplying
more than 6 million cubic feet a day or 2.1 billion cubic
feet per year. We can’t increase production because
this would result in adverse impacts to the gas field, wells,
compressors and other equipment.
The amount of helium offered for sale by the BLM to private
industry over the past four years was 2.1 billion cubic feet
(bcf) each year. The amount of helium purchased ranged
from 0.7 bcf in 2004 to 1.6 bcf in 2006. The BLM delivers
crude helium to refiners along the Helium Conservation Pipeline;
deliveries ranged from 1.3 bcf in 2003 to 2.1 bcf in 2006
(including reserves from previous years).
The bottom line in terms of helium supply is that there is
very little excess helium refining capacity, and domestic
supplies of crude helium are growing ever tighter. Until
overseas plants are fully online and/or additional plants
are built, we’re potentially facing additional supply
disruptions, if not shortages.
The Bureau of Land Management is committed to providing its
share of crude helium to the marketplace, and will continue
to do so.
to the article link for more helium articles.