In 1908, five years after the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk, U.S. Army Lieutenant Thomas Etholen Selfridge earned the dubious distinction as the first person to die in an airplane crash. In fact, the early years of aviation are littered with bodies. Last week, a pair of brothers in Washington state debuted an aircraft they see as the answer to the long-sought dream of perfectly safe flight. With a rigid, winged body held underneath a massive helium-containing envelope, their craft is billed as a fusion of both airplane and blimp technology. It is called "Plimp."
Egan Airships, the company formed by twin brothers James and Joel Egan, debuted their Plimp at the InterDrone exposition earlier this month. The first model is unmanned, making it a plane blimp drone, built within FAA limits. Because half of the weight of the vehicle is offset by the helium envelope (the big, blimp-like pouch on the top of the vehicle), the craft is larger than a typical drone: 28 feet long, and 7 feet in diameter.