Expect traffic on the 101 highway in Mountain View, California, to be even worse in the days or weeks ahead, as motorists slow down to watch Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s 124-meter long airship Pathfinder 1 launch into the air for the first time. IEEE Spectrum has learned that LTA Research, the company that Brin founded in 2015 to develop airships for humanitarian and cargo transport, received a special airworthiness certificate for the helium-filled airship in early September. That piece of paper allows the largest aircraft since the ill-fated Hindenburg to begin flight tests at Moffett Field, a joint civil-military airport in Silicon Valley, with immediate effect.
The certificate permits LTA to fly Pathfinder 1 within the boundaries of Moffett Field and neighboring Palo Alto airport’s airspaces, at a height of up to 460 meters (1500 feet). That will let it venture out over the south San Francisco Bay, without interfering with planes flying into or out of San Jose and San Francisco International commercial airports. In a letter supporting its application for the certificate, LTA wrote: “Pathfinder 1’s experimental flight test program is to demonstrate and establish the flight envelope for the airship…. LTA’s test plan is tailored to include substantial indoor and outdoor ground testing, using a build-up approach to gradually increase the flight envelope.” The huge airship will initially be attached to a mobile mast for outdoor ground testing, before conducting about 25 low-level flights, for a total of 50 hours’ flight time.
Originally Posted at https://slashdot.org/