Thursday, September 4, 2014

DTO: Daily Blimpismo: 1987 Colt AS-56 Thermal Airship

Ever found yourself stuck in miserable gridlocked traffic and looked up at all that empty sky and thought...what a waste!  We are years away from the Fifth Element style hovering/flying taxicabs (the dystopian city on the other hand...that is closer), but what if there was a better way, a way to move around that pre-dates the automobile.  We are talking about the flying machine as first flown by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in 1782.  They go by all sorts of fancy names-- blimps, zeppelins, dirigibles, thermal airships...but I'd just call them freedom.  Find this 1987 Colt AS-56 Thermal Airship offered for $85,000 buy-it-now on eBay, located in Tuscon, AZ with 17 days to go.

Eighty-five large will buy you all kinds of brand new Mercedes-Benz executive class machines, but none of them will transport you effortlessly in low wind conditions like a blimp (okay, I know, technically this is not a blimp and is technically a hot-air airship, but I am going to call it a blimp because I like writing blimp...blimp).  One thing to consider when buying a blimp is that you must have a balloon operators FAA certification, which is around 24 hours of flying time and takes at least a year.  However, the seller of this blimp is offering to teach anyone to fly this thing on a private polo field which he says will take about 10 days.  I cannot imagine what you would be doing after the 3rd or 4th hour of flying around a polo-field (probably tethered), much less on the 9th day...but I really want to find out...

Like all blimps, this thing needs a powered fan to fly around, unless you want to end up on the Land of Oz.  Power comes from a 24 horsepower 3 cylinder 2 stroke German built Konig radial engine that spins a 52-inch pusher prop.  Please keep your pony tail tucked into your leather jacket at all times.  The nice thing about a hot air balloon is that if the engine pukes its guts at elevation you have plenty of time to come to say a few acts of contrition before you splash down in a cactus patch, abandoned minefield or snake farm.

The best part about blimping has to be the sense of fun associated with having your tender bits sitting on top of a gas filled bomb.  Not only will you need to keep a close eye on your hot air supply to the ballon, but you'll also need to control the fan and however this thing steers...but it is good for a top speed of 20 knots with an estimated flight duration of 90 minutes.  This will work great for a commuter as long as your commute is less than 17 miles each way (unless you can refuel at work...then range is 35 miles.)

See a better way to spend some of your hard earned cash to master the float?


  1. Only if I can get " Ice Cube is a pimp" embroidered on it.

  2. Keep in mind a 17 mile commute by road is often a lot shorter than 17 miles the way the crow flies. Or rather, the way the crow is blown in a light breeze.

  3. Great, a propane burner right above my head.


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