Sales campaign lifts off for Plimp hybrid airship

Plimp hybrid airship
Egan Airships has tested a drone-sized prototype of its Plimp hybrid airship. (Egan Airships Photo)

What do you get when you cross an airship and an airplane? If you’re willing to spend more than $4 million, you could get the Plimp hybrid aircraft that’s envisioned by Seattle-based Egan Airships.

The patented concept calls for mounting a helium-filled balloon on an airframe that has wings equipped with adjustable propellers. The result is a not-quite-lighter-than-air vehicle that rises like the Goodyear Blimp but can cruise like an airplane at speeds of more than 80 mph.

“This is a brand new approach. As you see it fly, what was not obvious becomes intuitive,” said the company’s co-founder and president, James Egan, a Seattle attorney who was recently in the news in connection with a lawsuit challenging the Seattle City Council’s repeal of a head-tax measure.

After years of work on the design and prototype testing, Egan is trying to drum up enough interest among potential buyers to move ahead with the years-long process of getting the plane built and certified.

It’s an unorthodox sales pitch: If customers are willing to pay $4 million plus overages, in installments spread out over the course of four years, they’ll get a Plimp Model J aircraft that’s capable of carrying either a ton of payload in cargo mode, or two pilots and eight travelers in passenger mode.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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