Lighter-than-air vehicles don't get enough credit as a form of transport. Okay, there was that one little crash and they are not fast or easy to control. If you get past the safety, speed and control issues, though, they are a great form of transport. Lighter-than-air vehicles are efficient, silent and, in their own way, beautiful. Below the fold are the top 10 most interesting lighter-than-air vehicle videos we could find. Enjoy.
1. Superman harness. There are many balloons that don't use baskets or cockpits to hold the pilot; just a harness. The coolest of these harnesses are the ones that allow you to spin and move about. They are often tethered because there is no way to control them.
2. Bike powered. I really love this bike powered helium balloon. The bike powers two large propeller blades at the back of the craft. It reminds me of the human powered air plane. There is just something about human powered flight. Maybe it's that thing in your mind telling you this just can't be real?
3. Solar powered. You don't need a flame or helium to be lighter than air. You can use the power of the sun. Solar balloons have black surfaces to absorb the heat of sun inside the balloon. The video shows it provides enough lift to pull someone into the air.
4. Air foil. Lighter-than-air vehicles that use wings or even flapping wings are still in the lab. I think it's an area that has real potential for developing lighter-than-air beyond advertising and weather balloons. Using the surface of the balloon as a means of lift is better than it being a drag.
5. Spinning wind turbine. Another interesting concept in lighter-than-air vehicles is the Magenn effect. The concept holds that spinning spherical surfaces can create lift. The company has a vehicle with a large spinning balloon and even envisions spinning lighter-than-air wind turbines.
6. Personal blimp. This is best edited video on the list. It's from a report by a newspaper about two guys that made their own blimp. It has interviews and great video of the balloon flying. In one scene, you see the pilot grab a leaf from the top of a tree.
7. Super fast remote control blimp. Most people can probably outrun the Goodyear blimp. The hyperblimp is another story. This remote control air ship is fast. Very fast. It's hard to believe it's a really a blimp. When it wizzes by the camera you really get a sense of the speed.
8. NASA. Lighter-than-air vehicles do some interesting things. They don't just inform thermometers for your local forecast. They almost go into space and do research on par with the Hubble space telescope.
9. War. Decades ago, when airplanes were less developed, balloons were a force to be messed with. The military used balloons to attack ships. The end of this black and white news reel includes shots of those balloons.
10. Skoda. Okay, technically this is not actually a real vehicle, just an advertisement for a car company. Still, a lifesized car blimp is pretty cool. Skoda has done some interesting ads. Top Gear even used a car like this to fool the studio audience.
Did I miss one? Post it in comments.