Letter to the editor: To fly on solar power

Dear Editor,

I need your help!

I wouldn’t ask, save I know that you are in a position to do so; at no trouble or cost to you; and, it might be of real interest to your student readers.

My story: For over 30 years, I have been trying to create a new form of air transportation.

I’m the proverbial “backyard inventor” with a great idea that can change the world. Of course, I have no money; and I’m up against huge aviation companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman; so I’m also a sort of “David versus Goliath” too. My idea, or invention, is really nothing more than a new design of an old aircraft. Everything that I want to do has been fully proven; the technology is simple and sound; and, todays’ materials and computer design abilities make it possible.

The idea is to build modern airships. However, not the blimps or zeppelins that everyone automatically pictures. Those are little more than glorified, elongated balloons; and, they are just as limited as people perceive them to be. No, the new airships are to be strong and fast. Strong, because they are constructed much like airplanes; of aluminum and carbon fiber. It allows them to fly in any weather. The strength of the materials allows them to carry much more powerful engines, which translates into the higher speeds that people demand.

But here is the best thing… they can fly on solar power. No airplane can carry enough solar cells to really do useful work; to carry hundreds of passengers or tons of cargo. But, giant airships have the room on their hulls to carry immense amounts of solar cells;  they can carry those hundreds of passengers or tons of air freight; and do so using nothing but sunshine. Imagine it!

A solar powered aviation industry will:

-Help save the Earth. Flying on solar power leaves zero carbon emissions in the air.

-Save millions of people. Third World countries could move goods and people anywhere across the globe at virtually no transportation costs. Students from developing nations could commute to schools of higher education; workers could live in rural settings and still travel to cities for their employment, farmers in the poorest countries could ship their goods to high paying markets at little cost and lift their economic situations; and giant airships can act as “flying hospitals” to take help anywhere needed. Because airships don’t need runways, they can bring efficient, affordable, versatile air transport to any location on Earth.

A new Solar Powered aviation industry will also create thousands of new jobs and careers. That is of great import for your student readers. It’s an entirely new field for them to consider. Of course, it will also take millions and millions of dollars. That will happen. In the past five years or so, almost a Billion dollars has been invested in airships. Sadly, that money has gone into building the same types of slow, cumbersome, extremely limited lighter-than-air craft as in the past, with little real change; and with the inevitable failures that come from this course. Something new has to be done. Having a new design is good; and being able to fly using Solar Power is a world-changing idea; but, it remains just that, an idea and nothing more.

So, we break down the steps needed to get the idea across: We start small. Build a single demonstration Solar Powered airship and fly it. Then, enlist whole communities and local governments to build their own, for their own people and their own purposes; and teach them how to do it. We have to start even smaller than this; we need to build small scale, working, models. In order to raise money enough to build even the smallest airship; I have written the idea down in some informative, and entertaining books. To publish these, I have placed them into a Kickstarter project.

Kickstarter will permit people who are interested in the airships to lend their support, in a very small way; but that accumulative support will allow the next steps towards creating the Solar Powered airships. There are many students who are interested in solar power, or alternative energy; and many more who understand the challenges and the dangers of the worlds’ carbon output. These readers would have great interest in future jobs or careers in Solar Powered Aviation. I gladly welcome them! I’m virtually alone; and after three decades at this, you may accept that I’m an older fellow. I know that success will depend on new, young people joining together with me to bring this all to pass.

My Kickstarter project is a start to raise a little money to get going; but even more, to attract and build a community of like-minded people. Today, I have $95. That’s all. I have no home, no job, no car, no phone. As I wrote, I’m an older (ahem) senior person. I don’t do the whole “Facebook” or “Twitter” or cell phone social media routine at all. You are surrounded left and right with students that do.