That was the headline in Ottowa-Hull's French Newspaper Le Droit
on the 3rd of September, 1998. I was there with "Dave", our
experimental homebuilt hot-air airship which we entered in the Sixth
World Airship Championships held in Gatineau, Quebec.
Three hot-air airships head out at the begining of a race on the first day of competion in
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. These were some of the more modest entries, others looked
more like the Goodyear Blimp and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Top speed for
these guys is about 15 mph; 10 is a comfortable cruising speed. Not good in headwind!
This is our entry which we nicknamed Dave because it was a bit of a David and Goliath
contest. Dave was completely home-built at a cost of about $1000 including the engine
(a 30-hp Mikuni ripped out of an old powered parachute). We didn't win, but we didn't
finish last either. One of my design contributions was the steering mechanism. Most
airships used ropes to hand-control the rudder. We used a pair of cross-country skis
attached to the rudder pedals to control the giant rudder. (See close-up below). The
airship was designed and built by Brian Boland (with his wife Louise) in Post Mills, VT.
|Les dirigeables envahissent le ciel!
(Airships ravage the sky)
In this photo (courtesy of Presse Canadienne) you see Dave's gondola -- Brian Boland is at the
controls. You can also see the Clews-designed steering mechanism in action. Control lines
run from the ski tips so that rudder pedal action is greatly amplified: 10 inches of pedal
action results in about 20 feet of pull on the rudder line. Use of rudder pedals freed up
Brian's hands for other duties. We were the only airship in the contest to use this unique
design. (I wonder why? Patents -- still -- pending...)
*The bottom line reads: Sur la photo, on apercoit l'Americain
Brian Boland dans son dirigeable pour le moins original.
(In the photo one can see Brian Boland in his airship which
is, to say the least, original.)
Actually, the high point of the 3-day championship/festival for many attendees was
native daughter Celine Dion who made a surprise appearance at the outdoor concert
and sang "My Love will Go On" -- in FRENCH! The (mostly Quebecois) crowd
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