WHO wants to help me build an airship? The reputation of the free market has a score to settle. Let me explain: blimps, zeppelins, dirigibles – whatever you call them, these stately giants of the sky, grounded since the 1940s, have never lost their hold on our imagination. From Pixar’s Up to the Final Fantasy video games, even if they no longer drift through our skies, they haunt our dreams.
Today, these wonderful machines have a chance to make a comeback, with commercial applications ranging from military surveillance to pipeline-free shipment of natural gas, to the tourism pioneered before the Second World War. But while there are technical hurdles to cross, the real roadblock is the cultural memory of a series of disastrous crashes, most famously that of the Hindenburg. Yet our memory gets the culprit wrong. The early airships were damned not by the limits of their technology, but socialist interference. Continue reading