The Brin-A-Loon: A Lofty Idea Is Ready to Take Flight

November 3, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb humanoid. No smart software required.

I read “Sergey Brin’s 400-Foot Airship Reportedly Cleared for Takeoff.” I am not sure how many people know about Mr. Brin’s fascination with a balloon larger than Vladimir Putin’s yacht. The article reports:

While the concept of rigid airships and the basic airframe design are a throwback to pre-Hindenburg times of the early 1900s, Pathfinder 1 uses a frame made from 96 welded titanium hubs, joined by some 289 reinforced carbon fiber tubes. These materials advances keep it light enough to fly using helium, rather than hydrogen as a lift gas.

10 28 brinaloon

A high technology balloon flies near the Stanford campus, heading toward the Paul Allen Building. Will the aspiring network wizards notice the balloon? Probably not. Thanks, MidJourney. A bit like the movie posters I saw as a kid, but close enough for horseshoes and the Brin-A-Loon.

High tech. Plus helium (an increasingly scarce resource for the Brin-A-Loon and party balloons at Dollar General) does not explode. Remember that newsreel footage from New Jersey. Hydrogen, not helium.

The article continues:

According to IEEE Spectrum, the company has now been awarded the special airworthiness certificate required to fly this beast outdoors – at less than 1,500 ft (460 m) of altitude, and within the boundaries of Moffett Field and the neighboring Palo Alto Airport’s airspace.

Will there be UFO reports on TikTok and YouTube?

What’s the purpose of the Brin-A-Loon? The write up opines:

LTA says its chief focus is humanitarian aid; airships can get bulk cargo in and people out of disaster areas when roads and airstrips are destroyed and there’s no way for other large aircraft to get in and out. Secondary opportunities include slow point-to-point cargo operations, although the airships will be grounded if the weather doesn’t co-operate.

I remember the Loon balloons. The idea was to use Loon balloons to deliver Internet access in places like Sri Lanka, Puerto Rico, and Africa. Great idea. The hitch in the float along was that the weather was a bit of an issue. Oh, the software — like much of the Googley code floating around — was a bit problematic.

The loon balloons are gone. But the Brin-A-Loon is ready to take to the air. The craft may find a home in Ohio. Good for Ohio. And the Brinaloon will be filled with helium like birthday party balloons. Safer than hydrogen. Will the next innovation be the Brin-Train, a novel implementation of the 18th century Leland Stanford railroad engines?

Stephen E Arnold, November 3, 2023


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