If you ever wondered what you would get from crossing a plane with a blimp, the answer is a Plimp and it’s now a real thing from Seattle-based manufacturer, Egan Airships. The unmanned 28-foot aircraft contains a helium-filled envelope that gives the craft the buoyancy of a blimp, but its rigid wings allow faster travel like a conventional drone.
The Plimp’s two wings rotate the electric motors straight up for vertical takeoff, landing and hovering, and tilt forward-facing for propulsion up to 40 mph with about an hour of flight time. If the Plimp’s motors give out, the blimp half of the drone allows the 55-pound vehicle to glide back to Earth at a rate of about 9 mph.
The Plimp’s size makes it easy to see by other aircraft and ground-based operators can keep a line of sight up to three miles. Egan Airships imagines using the Plimp for advertising, surveying/mapping, surveillance, inspection and aerial cinematography and should be commercially available the first quarter of 2018.