That blimp power plant

I’ve gotta say it. I do not particularly like it. Flying turbines up to (up to) 30,000 feet, what pilots call “flight level 300”. Then (at the very end of the piece), they admit that the FAA might give them trouble; the rules say keep it under fifty stories! It might be okay for a mountaintop near Quito, but not for suburban USA, where private planes and small airfields are scattered all over.

Where will they find sizable neighborhoods of people who don’t mind a massive, lumbering, turbine power plant ominous over their rooftops, bobbing about with the vagaries of the winds?

The designers must have spent a fortune on computer-aided design (CAD), but I can’t make out what’s in the drawings. The main one, it seems, is of an anchor point for the flying power plant, with “boxcar” wheels and undercarriages, sans boxcars. They want power to flow via coaxial cable.
I don’t know what to make of that other picture, what’s “blimp” and what’s “turbine”.

For years, I puzzled over turbines, blades, propellers, sails, etc., and eventually I had to blow away one of my favorite notions, namely, that I could make ideas for designs simply “occur” to me by studying them, sometimes with the aid of dream-inducing chemicals, sometimes not. I knew I had to focus on a problem and study it scientifically, intently, and profoundly for awhile, and then put it utterly out of my mind for awhile, and do that over and over again, but I never believed that taking hallucinogens once in a blue moon was a bad idea, or that dreaming induced by vitamin B6 couldn’t stimulate creativity.
But look what’s happened to windmills and helicopter rotors. Leonardo thought a helicopter rotor ought to look like a fat screw of one or two turns (and that the presence of guy wires wouldn’t hurt). Boy, did that turn out wrong!
In bygone centuries, the Dutch built very picturesque windmills, but they were no better at imagining how to get power out of the wind than I am in the third millennium.
I just have to take the superiority of modern windmill design on faith, because it doesn’t make much sense to me “intuitively”. It doesn’t just naturally “look right”. You’d think high-power aerodynamics ought to come naturally.
For years, pop science fans gushed over the “beauty” of fighter planes, flying wings, and rockets, but that sort of aesthetic thinking never led anywhere near the stealth bomber.

In fact, each successful new design shattered earlier notions of what looked right. They had to pretend otherwise or chuck everything they’d been saying out the window.
I thought I could conjure up what future wind-powered boats would look like, too; I had lots of designs down on paper; but now I must confess they were all probably wrong. My “underlying principles” were hogwash!

They ought to forget about trying to revolutionize anything and stick to proven windmill design.  Using blimps to hold them aloft is a good idea, but keep them under 500 feet.  Forget about massive amounts of power and admit their application will be limited to small, rural curiosities.

And take a course in electrical power transmission before deciding coax is the way to go.


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