Lockheed Martin P-791 buoyant lift system vehicle

Sentinel Chicken

American 71 Heavy, contact departure 126.47
17 January 2006
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Related news story when it first took the air (Feb 2006): http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=awst&id=news/020606p2.xml

Link to video: http://www.break.com/index/how-rosie-odonnell-travels.html

Looks like the video poster didn't quite figure out what he had posted. Don't read the comments section. That's sure to kill brain cells.:D
Skunk Work strike again ;D
(together with TCOM, maker of aerostats and envelopes for airships.

a hybrid heavy-load carrier prototype. aka P-791 "Walrus" more at this link


yes you see right 4 hovercraft landinggear ;D




picture from first fly of Walrus

and for those who don't know, who Rosie O'Donnell is ::)
So P-791 nickname is Bertha (or Big Bertha)


...an unofficial personal account

An accounting of the events of first flight Project P-791 on 31 January 2006 at Lockheed Martin SkunkWorks, Palmdale California according to an eyewitness.
The flight test crew had been briefed the night prior to the event. The winds were forecasted to be around 3 knots which would have been within the "first flight" testing criteria of not greater than 5 knots. The aircraft was declared ready for flight.
The HAC team gathered at the hangar at approximately 5:45 AM. Some forty or so other folks had already arrived. Food and drink were assembled on multiple tables in the hangar entry befitting the traditional first flight festivities hosted by Lockheed Martin. The area was open to those gathered, an uncommon practice to the typically closed practices of plant security. But this then, was a special day, and it was obvious by the crowd's gathering, suggesting that this event was about to see something quite different from any other. Three luxury busses were waiting to take a VIP crowd to the viewing area to observe events as soon as the hybrid aircraft was to leave the hangar.
But something was amiss, and potentially disturbing. We felt it as we departed our parked cars and proceeded to the hangar. It was the wind; not three knots, but over ten, and gusting. Someone forgot to tell the weatherman! Once inside the hangar and as the time 6:30 AM approached it was becoming obvious that wind would perturb the scheduled testing events. We anxiously awaited Lockheed Martins declaration.
First Dr. Bob Boyd made the announcement, then it was followed by a statement that our "Invited Guest" badges might be more valuable on EBAY the following day since the dates would be wrong, as it was the current opinion that the tests would be postponed to a subsequent date.
As some folks started to depart it was Neil Kacena who announced that they would wait as long as 7:30 AM before cancelling, hoping that the winds would somehow abate and the guests not disappointed. As time advanced the winds continued and became more "gusty" and hopes faded. Then, strangely, at 7:24 AM the winds stopped; not even a breeze. As fast as our hopes had faded, our expectations again soared.
Suddenly the crews hopped into action, the guests were rushed into the busses, the hybrid was taken into tow out of the hangar and we were all off to the flight line, refreshed by the expectation that within a matter of minutes we would finally see the historical first flight of our hybrid aircraft.
Out onto the flight line, to the north of the same runway where we had a week earlier viewed the ground testing activity, the busses took up position; the guests to the event disembarked and waited anxiously. It was now about 7:40 AM. Big Bertha as I called her (the hybrid aircraft) advanced to a holding area at the end of the runway as the pilots continued their checks ending finally with the ballonet final inspection and a call that they were ready.....; when all of a sudden there was a radio transmission that the control room was down. What do you mean the control room was down? Lets launch this thing...what do you think we are waiting for...its the hybrid that has to get airborne not the control room. Then there was the obvious explanation, we need the control room to monitor and record the telemeter data from the aircraft from which to ascertain flight qualities and other performance functions. "How long to get it back up?", was the query transmitted from our vantage point. "Fifteen minutes to reload because of a power interruption", was the reply. OK, that's not bad. We will wait. Believe me we would have waited all day. AT 8:00 AM we settled down thinking just a few minutes more and the show would start. AT 8:15 AM another delay of about 10 minutes was announced...a UPS failed and we will have to reload again was the nervous voice on the other end of the radio. Nerve racking, but intent upon seeing this through, the time ticked off and then the call, that was sweet to our ears; We are back up...lets go.
Finally, the aircraft started to increase power and positioned itself on the end of the runway and not quite stopping, began to advance. Then a real surprise; within two body lengths the long awaited expectation....IT'S AIRBORNE. The sight was just too much to behold. My Goosebumps had Goosebumps and I'll have to confess it was hard to hold back tears at such a marvelous sight. Its been years since I jumped around like an idiot...I usually just walk around that way....but this was the event of a lifetime; of a century; and whatever else one might fathom up. "Bertha" I love you!
The aircraft took to an altitude of between three and five hundred feet, passed overhead and into the morning sunlight. The two pilots were obviously having fun because they made a number of airborne maneuvers.
As the pilots neared the end of their outbound leg Big Bertha turned starboard and then to the port and re-approached the runway for the very first historical landing. The aircushion landing system had been extended throughout the flight and as the aircraft passed in front of us the aft hover cushion touched first, fingers fully extended, then the aircraft had sort of a soft, but slight bounce where the forward cushions made ground contact, then the vehicle settled down on all four. The aircraft rolled out, came to a stop, then advanced slowly to the end of the runway. Four minutes had elapsed. Mission accomplished!
You can only imagine the excitement and the dialogue rendered by all. A non-eventful landing; sweet words to a flight test crew, but as far as events go this was was anything but non-eventful. History will record this event as the start of a new age of affordable cargo transportation that can go anywhere.
If there were any critics or skeptics in the crowd they became zealots favoring the program that day. I suspect that all of Palmdale heard about the aircraft, as crowds and cars were lined up on Sierra Highway watching the events on the field. Word has it that pictures are already on the internet and an Antelope Valley Press (the local newspaper) reporter called asking if Lockheed Martin cared to make a comment.
As the guests arrived back into the hangar, Bertha was allowed to travel back to the hangar under her own power and through the fence where she was finally hooked back onto the tow vehicle and pulled back into the hangar. As the pilots disembarked the cockpit, they were greeted with the traditional "water barrel" christening where in lieu of a standard shower, they were treated as though they just went through a car wash.
Then fun was had by all, speeches, awards and accolades to those who contributed to the enterprise.
From start to finish; from a clear sheet of paper to product, only fourteen months. Lockheed Martin should be proud. Yet another demonstration of engineering brillance and leading edge commitment from the infamous "SkunkWorks".


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new superb P-791LM video from Lockheed Martin YouTube channel


note some important writings on instrument panel


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SOURCE:Flight International
Skunk Works P-791 airship revived as civil cargo-lifter
By Stephen Trimble

Less than a year after losing a major US Army order, Lockheed Martin will revive and scale-up the P-791 hybrid airship to carry at least 20t of cargo under a new contract signed by a Canada-based commercial start-up.

Aviation Capital Enterprises, Inc., of Calgary, has ordered the first airship, which is rebranded the SkyTug, for delivery from Lockheed's Skunk Works division in 2012, says founder Kirk Purdy.

"We're actually well along into the design of a 20t lifter," Purdy says. "The system requirements are close to frozen for that."

©Lockheed Martin
While the first SkyTug will be demonstrated next year under an experimental license to potential buyers, Lockheed will deliver a second hybrid airship to Aviation Capital in late-2012 for launching certification tests with the US Federal Aviation Administration, Purdy says.

"Lockheed is taking us through that right now," Purdy says. "This is not a surprise to the FAA. They've been briefed."

Although Aviation Capital has not signed up any firm customers, discussions are ongoing with "strongly interested parties" in the Middle East, Brazil, Mexico and Canada for the SkyTug, Purdy says.

The concept also adds to the list of active programmes involving hybrid airship designs.

Lockheed first flew the P-791 demonstrator five years ago, but the company lost a bid for a half-billion dollar long endurance multi-intelligence vehicle (LEMV) contract, which the army awarded last June to Northrop Grumman and Hybrid Air Vehicles.

The LEMV programme requires Northrop to deploy the first aircraft in December to Afghanistan to provide aerial surveillance over 21-day missions, or carry up to 6,900kg (15,000lb) of cargo as far as 2,400nm.

Two months after losing the LEMV contract, Lockheed's Skunk Works officials still predicted a bright future for the P-791. "It's still in our hangar. It's available to use again for other demonstrations," Bob Ruszkowski, a Skunk Works system engineer, said in August. "We're exploring other opportunities for hybrid airships."

The first SkyTugs will be designed to lift 20t payloads, but future designs could be scaled-up to carry from 50 to several hundred tons of cargo, Purdy says.

"We're creating an industry here," he adds.

[Watch video describing Lockheed's technical concept for the P-791 on Flightglobal's The DEW Line blog.]

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It could be very handy for disaster relief...
yahooo! thank you, CodeOne staff, again!

moar photos&renders at the link


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It's NOT photo-shopped ? It's really, really real ??


Uh, can they run those hover-pads in reverse to anchor themselves ??
Nik said:
Uh, can they run those hover-pads in reverse to anchor themselves ??

Yes. That's kinda the point. By having a means to lock itself down to the ground, the P-791 should need less in the way of a ground crew. It just flied down, locks itself down, loads/unloads, unlocks and takes off. If it is doing more unloading than loading, the ability to clamp itself firmly to the ground would be rather vital. Launch might be entertaining to watch aterwards... shut off the suction and the thing would spring violently into the sky.

Which, for a military vehicle, might be useful in combat.
I just got an idea for something: a big button-shaped radome on the front, and color the whole aircraft pink with black hoverpads, and there we have it: the world's largest Flying Pig. ;D
Retracting Air Cushioned Landing System for Air Vehicles John P. Morehead et al

Application number: 12/168,393
Publication number: US 2010/0001128 A1
Filing date: Jul 7, 2008
Issued patent: US8016229 (Issue date Sep 13, 2011)

A hybrid air vehicle is disclosed in which a cover is provided for a plurality of air cushioned landing pads to reduce drag when airborne. The pad is inflatable to provide an air cushioned during touchdown and deflatable during flight of the air vehicle. The cover can include a first cover portion and a second cover portion. A first cover roller of the first cover portion and a matching second cover roller of the second cover portion abut to cover the corresponding pad. The first cover roller and the second cover roller, which are separate and free from a physical linkage there between, are separable in an eyelid fashion to expose the corresponding pad. A separation gap between the first cover roller and the second cover roller is increased or decreased by roller straps to cover or expose the corresponding pad.
Inventors: John P. Morehead, Douglas H. Greiner, Renee Pasman, Robert R. Boyd


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Orionblamblam said:
Nik said:
Uh, can they run those hover-pads in reverse to anchor themselves ??

Yes. That's kinda the point.

The term "sucker" comes to mind.... ::) Will it make a loud, humorous "SCHWUP" noise when taking off?

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
I was thinking the same way. After reading that it uses those hovercraft cushions in reverse to anchor itself to the ground one can only wonder what happens if you immediately alternate airflow to reverse once the crew needs to take off. That thing will launch into the sky. ;D

I like it though. It could really be useful to warfighters and civilians alike.
Looks like Lockheed is still spending IR&D on hybrid airships. Given the long track record of customer indifference, this seems like a gamble although I doubt if they have actually spent that much.

LM Hybrid Airship Certification Plan for Commercial Transport Approved by the FAA


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