How many blimps are there?
How many blimps are there? Though it may seem as if there are more blimps in the sky today, that’s not true—the same number of blimps has been in the skies for almost 20 years. Let’s break down exactly how many blimps there are and when the first one was launched into the atmosphere.
Section 1: What is a blimp
A blimp is a lighter-than-aircraft that does not need to be supported by the ground.
It is propelled by one or more airships filled with helium or hydrogen. Blimps are distinguished from other types of aircraft because they have no internal framework for support and rely on external gas bags for their shape and size. These provide a lower density than air, so the craft rises to retain its buoyancy and is less dense than the surrounding atmosphere. Blimps are usually moored to the ground or water surface when flown; when on the ground, ballonets in the zenith (top) bag will generally keep it upright if released from an upright position. In flight, weight rather than buoyancy provides upthrust.
Section 2: Why use a blimp
A blimp is a lighter-than-air craft that can be used to carry advertising, broadcasting equipment, and more. Because they are propelled by an engine and don’t require a runway for takeoff or landing, blimps are primarily used for tourism in fairs and amusement parks. Finding an exact number of blimps worldwide is challenging because many countries don’t register them with any agency. However, there are at least twenty registered airships in the U.S. alone. There are only four states where you can see blimps regularly: California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Section 3: Who uses airships/blimps
Various people use airships and blimps in multiple ways. They can be used as advertising platforms to promote a product or event. The Goodyear blimp is one example of this use. They can also be used for filming aerial shots, such as in the movie E.T. Some people use them for business purposes, like to get coverage for their company that they would not have been able to do otherwise. Others use airships/blimps for recreational purposes, like travel and sightseeing. For some individuals, airships/blimps serve a purely functional purpose; they need an aircraft with which to perform their duties. For example, pilots who work in wildfire response might use an airship/blimp because it allows them better visibility than when using airplanes or helicopters.
A final category includes scientists who study the earth’s atmosphere with these vehicles.
Section 4: How much do they cost
A blimp can cost anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million. Some more sophisticated models can cost as much as $4 million. The more giant the blimp, the more expensive it is to fly and maintain. Typical operating costs for a 10-year-old blimp run about $30,000 per year, including fuel and crew expenses. For example, a 50-year-old blimp might require major refurbishing every few years. When buying a used blimp, be sure that the delivered price includes inflation adjustments for wear and tear on equipment over time (e.g., replacement of aging electrical wiring or balloon fabric)
Section 6) Is it safe to fly in a blimp?
Blimps are one of the most secure forms of air travel. So, yes, it is safe to fly in a blimp. About 1 in 2 million flights will experience an accident that leaves passengers injured or killed. To put that into perspective, the odds of dying on a commercial airline flight are 1 in 11 million! If you’re still not convinced, ask yourself this question: how many people die yearly from car crashes? Every year, more than 30,000 people die from car accidents. That’s about one death for every 100 million miles traveled.
In contrast, during your lifetime, the chance of being involved in an aviation fatality ranges from 500-700 out of 100 million miles traveled! The point is, no matter what vehicle you choose for transportation, there are dangers; however, they can be minimized by understanding them and learning how to mitigate them. So if you’re ever feeling hesitant when considering whether or not to get on a plane or ride in a blimp…remember these facts and breathe easy, knowing that these modes of transportation are some of the safest ways to travel around the world.
How many blimps are still in existence?
There is no definitive answer to this question. The number of blimps ranges from around 20 to over 100, with newer models coming out yearly. A few vintage models have also been restored and put back into operation. Many airship companies keep their fleet size private, but it is safe to say the world population hovers between 50-100 ships. It’s difficult to know how many new blimps were manufactured last year because the companies don’t release their numbers publicly. Most new models come from Aeroscraft and LTA Systems, both based in California, producing different commercial airship models for various purposes like advertising or luxury transportation.
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