Monday, April 1, 2013

Bill Kuhl - Blimp Pilot

Several years ago I was recruited to be a model radio control blimp pilot to fly a helium blimp that was 15 feet long during intermissions at Winona State basketball games. Mediawerks a local multi-media company had come up with the idea of using the blimp to give a local bank visibility mainly to student population. After I started to get the hang of flying the blimp I would drop coupons from the blimp over the bleachers.

Blimp Stuck on Ceiling

Controlling the blimp is not real difficult except the reaction is slow, this means you need to plan your turns ahead of time.  Setting the buoyancy level of the blimp by filling just the correct amount of helium is critical as we found out the first night, it has to be so the blimp almost rises but does not. On the first time out just a little too much helium was put into the blimp and it quickly rose to the ceiling and would not come down. In desperation a pellet gun had to be used put enough holes in the blimp to bring it down. The holes were quickly patched and it did fly for the game with very little time to spare.

Motor that Turned Blimp in Tail Fin

Controlling the blimp altitude was done by a large servo in the gondola under the blimp that pivoted two electric motors with propellers either upwards or downwards. Turning was accomplished by an electric motor in the tail of the blimp that changed thrust directions to move the tail either direction which caused the blimp to turn.  Making quick corrections just wasn't possible but I started to get the hang of it after a few times out. The crowd really seemed to like this at first but I sensed that like most things the novelty of it started to diminish over time.

Bill Kuhl

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