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Author Topic: Rufus Porter's Airship  (Read 682 times)
Dr von Zarkov
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« on: November 03, 2013, 01:08:26 am »

In 1849 Porter planned to build an 800-foot steam-powered airship with accommodations for 50 to 100 passengers, aiming to convey miners to the California Gold Rush. He had already built and flown several scale models in Boston and New York. He advertised New York-to-California service, asking a $50 down payment for a $200 fare, and began building immediately. His first "aeroport" was 240 feet long; it was destroyed by a tornado. Later that year, he began a 700-foot version with new backers, but during a showing of the almost-complete dirigible on Thanksgiving Day, rowdy visitors tore the hydrogen bag and destroyed it. In 1854 his third attempt ended with technical troubles. (Wikipedia entry)
See also http://www.flyingmachines.org/prtr.html

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« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2013, 07:48:11 am »

Without looking at his pamphlets, I can't say whether or not his estimations of the engine weight and power was even close to realistic, but I personally doubt it, based research I've been doing. Unfortunately, I'd have to go down to Canberra to have a look at a reprint of his pamphlets, and I can't find any scans of the originals anywhere online, but others might be able to find a copy nearby them. I have found a text that hints a little at the structure of the airship, aka just like any of the successful airships, so it's astounding just how close he was to making a viable airship. Even if he didn't live up to his claims, he could very well have started airships up decades before they were developed in real life, if only he hadn't been beset by those disasters.
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2013, 01:52:02 am »

Well you can't tell anything from the illustration above as the size of the envelope is unrealistically small.  But then again in the 19th. C. "anything goes" when it come to parting people from their money.
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The Gunner
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2013, 02:57:48 am »

Well you can't tell anything from the illustration above as the size of the envelope is unrealistically small.  But then again in the 19th. C. "anything goes" when it come to parting people from their money.


Based on what I can find out,  the drawing is probably incorrect. The passenger section was apparently 150 feet long and ten feet wide ( http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/42/v42i02p073-081.pdf ), with the engines likely not doubling the length of the gondola, and the other sources agree that his design was basically the same as later zeppelins and that he seriously intended to build it.
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