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Technology

Big Black Delta Mystery Solved? 571 571

jonerik writes "According to this article from Space.com, hundreds of sightings of enormous arrowhead-shaped aircraft that have been logged since the 1980s just might have been solved. According to a new report by the National Institute for Discovery Science, the craft (referred to as Big Black Deltas, or BBDs) are massive black airships on the order of 600 feet long, 300 feet wide, and 40 feet tall, weighing on the order of 100 tons and capable of carrying huge loads over long distances. Since a 2001 NIDS study correlated sightings of large triangular or delta-shaped objects with Air Force Materiel Command and Air Mobility Command bases throughout the United States, it's assumed that the BBDs are DoD transport airships. Dr. L. Scott Miller, professor of Aerospace Engineering at Wichita State University, agrees with much of the NIDS report. 'I do think that a large airship, with a heavy lift and other mission objectives, has been built,' says Dr. Miller. 'Lockheed has shown a great deal of interest in airships for many years. The real question is whether the Department of Defense has committed to buy and use such machines.'"
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Big Black Delta Mystery Solved?

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  • Re:Frightening, no? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 05, 2002 @06:35PM (#4014954)
    That's not "according to Jane's", it's according to a book by a former Jane's aviation editor. Despite his credentials, it doesn't look like he did his homework on this one. I haven't read the book myself, but I have read the Salon review [salon.com], which damns the book pretty thoroughly. The book sounds like it's based more on bogus physics and conspiracy-theory thinking than on proper investigation.
  • Oh, please (Score:5, Informative)

    by linuxwrangler (582055) on Monday August 05, 2002 @07:07PM (#4015140)
    Big Black Ships? mysterious humming drive systems?

    How did this get by the /. editors.

    I know it is an "argumentum ad hominem" but just do an AltaVista search and see all the people who link to the "National Institute of Discovery Science" and you will not find a bunch of references in serious scientific journals.

    You will, however, get a reasonably comprehensive list of UFO whako sites. A small sample:

    www.area51researchcenter.com
    www.virtuallystran ge.net
    www.ufofinland.net
    www.ufowisconsin.com
    www.ufodisclosure.com
    www.aliendave.com
    www.oreg onuforeview.com
    ufounderground.net
    www.ufowatchd og.com
    www.truthseekeratroswell.com
    www.stardriv e.org
    www.intrudersfoundation.org
    www.ufoinfo.co m
    www.ufoconspiracy.com
    www.artbell.com

    You be the judge
  • by gleam (19528) on Monday August 05, 2002 @07:45PM (#4015327) Homepage
    Back in the 1970's, author John McPhee wrote a great book called "The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed," detailing the efforts of the Aereon company to create a lighter-than-air transport vessel.

    The company has, over the years, been issued five US patents for their work, numbers (feel free to look them up) 4149688, 4896160, 5034751, 5931411, and 6179248.

    McPhee is by no means a crackpot or a ufo "journalist", but rather a widely respected non-fiction author who has covered subjects from nuclear energy ("The Curve of Binding Energy") to oranges ("Oranges") and underground russian art ("The Ransom of Russian Art"). Although he is certainly not an expert in aerodynamics, he is not a biased party.

    The Aereon ships, shaped something like a bright orange pumpkin seed (hence the title), were never any longer than 26 feet, and the 26-footer (a test, basically) required no helium to take off--but the notion was always that the larger, transport versions, would need some assistance from helium to lift off and travel. The goal of the shape is to combine the lift capabilities of a normal plane with the features of a blimp. It was always meant for transport.

    A few urls:

    http://www.johnmcphee.com/deltoid.htm

    http://www.nidsci.org/news/illinois/aereon.html (from NIDS itself, commenting on the possibility of the vessel being an Aereon or an Aereon knockoff)

    http://www.users.on.net/justin/docs/transport/ae re on.jpg (the original design for the Aereon)

    http://www.aereoncorp.com/ Official Website of the Aereon corp, including a picture of the Aereon 26 in flight

    http://www.pacpubserver.com/new/business/6-22-99 /a ereon.html (article from 1999 about the possible return of the Aereon corp, including the following quote:

    Mr. Smith [an Aereon employee] described Aereon's two most promising current projects. One is a rotor vector -- part helicopter, part helium balloon -- that is being designed to replace helicopters in aerial logging operations. The second is a version of Aereon 26 that the company is designing to carry radar. Called WASP -- wide aperture surveillance plane -- and capable of a making continuous 360 degrees sweeps of the sky, the deltoid-shaped craft would far exceed the effectiveness of current anti-missile detection aircraft, Mr. Smith said.

    end quote. You'll note that the only current patent Aereon corp holds is for the WASP-style system)

    I'm not saying I have any idea what these things people are seeing are, I'm just mentioning a possibility. Anyone still interested in this *kind* of vessel should definitely go read "The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed" by McPhee.

    -gleam

  • Re:Heavy Lifting? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jafiwam (310805) on Monday August 05, 2002 @08:18PM (#4015462) Homepage Journal
    I found one picture (Google Groups) here:

    http://avia.russian.ee/vertigo/piasecki_helistat -r .html

    (Note the size of the helicopters bolted on the bottom, this thing was BIG.)

    I saw a video of the crash once, it was a frightening example of what harmonic resonance can do to something. Totally fell apart.
  • Re:Does not compute. (Score:5, Informative)

    by nathanm (12287) <nathanm@@@engineer...com> on Monday August 05, 2002 @08:20PM (#4015470)
    A 747-400 has a payload of over 120 tons with a range of over 4400 nautical miles. Why not just use 747s?
    A standard 747 works great for carrying passengers, and freight configured 747s can haul lots of cargo in small crates, but military airlifters use standardized pallets that won't fit in (current) 747s. Also, they can't carry tanks, large vehicles, helicopters, or other aircraft. Military cargo aircraft can accomodate the pallets or other large payloads. Besides, the C-5 can carry over 145 tons (max wartime payload, standard max is 125 tons).
  • by gleam (19528) on Monday August 05, 2002 @09:15PM (#4015657) Homepage
    It's possible, but I doubt it... there's too much obscure and weird history to Aereon corp for it to really be a front..

    examples:

    1) Founded by a presbyterian pastor (I think), who provided most of the original funding for the project.

    Quote: In Mr. McPhee's words, Mr. Drew, asked himself: "Why not bring the world's underdeveloped nations into the transportation forefront of the 20th century in a single leap by eliminating the need for roads, railroads, tunnels, bridges, airports, storage facilities and prepared harbors? Enormous warehouses in the sky would move from place to place, landing lightly on grass fields."

    It's possible Lockheed got a lot of strange religious people to start up this company, but I kinda doubt it...

    2) The now leader of the company, William Miller Jr., is also a religious man: he's a graduate of the Princeton Theological Seminary. It just strikes me as unlikely that an organization with such a...holy...background would be a front for lockheed-martin.

    Basically, a huge number of those involved with the project are a pastor, reverend, priest, minister, or graduate of a seminary...

    3) Lockheed's interest in lighter-than-air vehicles is fairly well documented..

    4) Another quote:

    He didn't give up. When the aircraft industry showed no interest, the theologian/flyer/inventor turned to the trucking industry. An aging trucking industry magazine in his files shows a football-field sized Aereon pulled up to a loading dock. Trucking companies showed some interest, but, Mr. Miller said, unions representing truckers felt threatened by the airship that could put many of them out of business, and so funding never materialized.

    It's possible the whole thing is a coverup, but I think it's more likely that Aereon is just a group of people who believe in the idea of an aerobody.

    -gleam
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .reggoh.gip.> on Monday August 05, 2002 @11:39PM (#4016167) Journal
    If it doesn't need pressure to hold its shape, the helium/hydrogen can be at 1 atmosphere, and will only leak slowly if punctured. It would probably have multiple cells, many of which would have to be deflated to crash the ship.
    All together, it could be less fragile than a plane relying on thrust and airfoils for lift.
    The USS Shenandoah (an experimental US-NAVY airship) broke up [pgh.net] in several pieces in a storm, back in 1925. Many crewmen were able to escape death by "piloting" some of the pieces to the ground.

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