Skyhook Jess Heavy Lifter Like Pournelle's Skyhook

The Skyhook Jess Heavy Lifter (JHL-40) is an ambitious new aircraft that is part blimp and part helicopter. It is designed to lift up to forty tons in one load and travel up to 320 kilimeters.


(Skyhook Jess Heavy Lifter [JHL-40])

The Skyhook, which is being developed by Skyhook International of Calgary in conjunction with Boeing, is a "blimp on steroids because it's got more than 20,000 horsepower" according to Skyhook president Pete Jess.

The helium-filled envelope fully supports the weight of the empty aircraft - it has neutral buoyancy. The four Boeing model 234 rotors attached on the air frame are entirely dedicated to lifting and maneuvering payload.

This heavy lifter may remind science fiction viewers of a very similar device from Jerry Pournelle's 1976 novel West of Honor; in fact, it's similar enough to have the same name:

The troops outside were grinning at us as they cut loose the tethers holding the balloons. Nothing happened, of course; the idea of Skyhook is to have almost neutral buoyancy, so that the lift from the gas bags just balances the weight of the load.
(Read more about Pournelle's Skyhook)

For contributing the name and promoting the general idea, I think that the company should at least offer Jerry Pournelle a free ride on the thing...

If you're interested in heavy lifters, take a look at the Dynalifter, a hybrid helium gas / gasoline-powered engine craft.

From CBC News via io9.

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