The Friday Frolic is a light hearted, thought provoking idea. Your contributions are welcome.
Airships are a good idea for air transport - if you're not in a hurry.
The Hindenburg disaster in New Jersey in 1937 ('Oh the humanity!') put a dampener on airships as a form of passenger transport. Part of the Hindenburg's problem was that the gas used to keep the craft aloft was hydrogen - which is very flammable. Today's airships use helium, which is much more stable.
Here's the idea. Air New Zealand invest in a small fleet of super-premium airborne hotels, taking visitors on scenic journeys across New Zealand's most stunning landscapes, stopping occasionally to sample local experience on the ground. No rush at all. You are already there - the journey is the experience.
It would be a perfect way to experience New Zealand people who are in no hurry. A way of seeing the landscape from a unique vantage point - and less challenging than a Virgin Galactic flight to the edge of space (it's almost the opposite of the VG experience).
You are already there - the journey is the experience
Taking off and landing wouldn't require the amount of space that an airport does - and the craft wouldn't create much noise - the gentle whirring of the solar powered electric propellors. It wouldn't need any radically invasive infrastructre. Maybe it could stop at specially designed and built luxury lodges along the way.
The green credentials would be impressive and reinforce New Zealand's brand promise. It would generate Few emissions and harness sustainable energy.
Dreamliners are fine for bring people to NZ but they are an undifferentiated experience - all airlines are basically the same and the sky above the clouds out of the tiny windows necessary for pressurised cabins looks the same every where.
The systems for controlling the craft in weather and for landing and docking would be sophisticated to improve safety - these days the pilot could probably drive it from an iPad and let the automatic systems run the algorithms needed to compensate for wind and weather.
While I applaud Air New Zealand for leveraging the Tolkein movies' global appeal - this project is more sustainable than the clever tactic of painting a dragon onto a plane.
What do you think? A super-premium New Zealand experience, or a flight of fancy?
The airship I have based the concept drawing on is called The Manned Cloud - one of a number of airship ideas that have been floated in the past decade. Read more about the project on Dezeen
This blog is a notepad of contemporaneous and sometimes extemporaneous thoughts about creativity, strategy and ideas.