Lockheed Martin, the global security and aerospace company, is known for developing advanced technology, focusing on military vehicles. One of its many projects, in process for more than a decade, is the Hybrid Airship.
Their first Hybrid Airship, the P-791, became public knowledge in 2006 when a strange object was seen in the sky over the Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Projects Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California. In their next issue, Aviation Week & Technology magazine “scooped” the story.
But the story was old news to Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald, who is also the founder and Chief Flight Instructor at HovercraftTraining Centers. A year before the article was published, Lockheed Martin’s test pilots Eric Hanson and Tim Blunck had come to Fitzgerald for pilot training on a Neoteric HoverTrek™ and to familiarize themselves with hovercraft technology – which would be a major feature of their new P-791 Hybrid Airship's air cushion landing system ...
In 2005, #Lockheed Martin Flight Test Engineer Tim Blunck (left) and Flight Operations Manager/Chief Test Pilot Eric Hanson (center) received their Hovercraft Pilot Certifications from Neoteric President Christ Fitzgerald (right).
Hanson and Blunck were both in the cockpit during the first test flight of the P-791 airship demonstrator model, with Hanson as pilot. They reported to Neoteric, "With the four vectored propulsors, I skated, sidestepped, backed up and did 180-degree reverses with solid control in 5-knot winds ... The training you provided last June was a tremendous help. It enabled us to understand the sensations around us and gave us a better situational awareness as the systems were energized."
A decade after studying hovercraft technology and flight training at Neoteric and Hovercraft Training Centers, Lockheed Martin is now manufacturing the ACLS Hybrid Airship - and giving hovercraft technology the major credit for a vehicle that will "open a new world of possibilities."
To quote from their website, "What is a hovercraft? It's an amphibious vehicle that travels on a cushion of air ... Hovercraft can operate across nearly any terrain, including land, water and ice. It's this characteristic that makes hovercraft technology the ideal match for the Hybrid Airship, the cargo-hauling ship of the skies."
Lockheed Martin's Hybrid Airship has a multitude of functions, especially since more than two-thirds of the world's land and half of the global population has no direct access to paved roads. From carrying heavy equipment or troops to isolated areas, to transporting medical personnel and supplies in disaster relief operations, this combination hovercraft/airship is "the next leap in transportation technology."
|Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin|
Beginning with "black projects" during World War II, Lockheed Martin's #Skunk Works has made and indelible mark on aviation history through its development and production of legendary aircraft, including the U-2, the SR-71 and the F-117.
Their new Hybrid Airship and its hovercraft technology could join the ranks of legend in Lockheed Martin's incomparable record as producer of so many of the world's most innovative, and most famous, aircraft. We at Neoteric Hovercraft are honored to have played a role in this latest production.