Wed, Aug 22, 2012
Texas Man Envisions An Around-The-World Airship Race
It's an old adage ... at least among men ... that whenever two of something are traveling along the same course that somehow, no matter how subtly, they're racing. Speed and distance seems to have very little relevance in this observation.
So when an aviation enthusiast began considering a race on a grand scale, what came to mind were some of the largest, and some might argue most stately, aircraft flying today ... blimps.
Don Hartsell is working or organize what he is calling the World Sky Race, according to a report appearing on CNN. If it comes together, the airships would depart from London in 2014, and compete in a series of 18 legs, rather like the stages of the Tour de France. At an average speed of 70 miles per hour, Hartsell thinks that the airships could travel about 1,000 miles a day. The aircraft would be timed from the moment they departed the left the starting line to the moment they arrived at an official end point. The aircraft with the shortest cumulative time would be the winner. Hartsell expects that the race would take about six months.
Hartsell, who is the founder of the World Air League, a blimp enthusiast's group, thinks 140 million people around the world would witness the race. He is working towards a winners purse of some $5 million and the title of World Sky Champion. Of the 30-35 airships Hartsell estimates to be flying today, he says he hopes five would enter the race.
Hartsell has been working on his idea for years, and is still attempting to raise prize money and secure sponsors for the event. He also needs to negotiate with dozens of governments for permission to fly in their airspace. He thinks the race would cost about $50 million to stage, all funded by donations and sponsorships. He hopes to announce a start date of 2014 for the race in Versailles this fall.
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