Walrus/HULA Heavy-Lift Blimps Rise, Fall… Rise?


Dragon Dream
click for video

Sept 5/13: FAA R&D Cert. Aeros announces that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given their Dragon Dream craft an R&D Airworthiness Certificate. It can only be operated in designated controlled airspace for the purpose of research and development, but at least it can now fly.

Within days, Aeros Corp. begins flight-testing the Dragon Dream half-scale airship in tethered mode. Sources: Aeros, Sept 5/13 release | Defense Update, “Aeroscraft – Mega Airship Back in the air in Tustin, California”.

Aug 28/13: Aeros – flight crew. Aeros announces a high-powered flight crew for its Dragon Dream airship. In addition to veteran airship pilot Corky Belanger as Test Pilot in Command, former USAF Air Mobility Command chief Gen. Raymond Johns is aboard as Test Pilot. Inventor and CEO Igor Pasternak will be the Flight Test Engineer.

This thing had better not crash. Sources: Aeros, Aug 28/13 release.

Aug 21/13: Pelican done. Aeros announces that all Project Pelican testing and demonstrations have been completed successfully within budget, and 1 month ahead of schedule. Work has included taxi tests of the air bearing landing system (ABLS), Control-Of-Static-Heaviness (COSH) internal ballasting system, and low speed control (LSC) system, plus cockpit improvements. Aeros’ initial fleet development plans involve 22 full-sized, globally-deployable Aeroscrafts in 66-ton and 250-ton configurations, but initial flights and many other steps will be required before they get there. Aeros CEO Igor Pasternak does thank the Pentagon:

“Aeros will be forever grateful to the DOD, DARPA and NASA for their support and vision during the Aeroscraft’s development, and I would also like to thank all the members of the Government-Aeros team for their professionalism and insights throughout the Pelican program…. The successful demonstration of the Aeroscraft ‘Dragon Dream’ vehicle was only possible because of tremendous cooperation, vision and passion shared with these great partners.”

June 3/13: Commercial. Aeros bosts that its initial fleet will include 24 airships in ML866 (66 ton payload) and ML868 (250 ton) configurations, with airlines and individual customers invited to rent them. They’re considerably ahead of themselves from an engineering point of view, but locking up verifiable intent from customers is critical to gaining the financing they’ll need. Aeros’ release include this quote from CEO Igor Pasternak:

“The initial fleet of 24 vehicles will be allocated based on our clients’ needs, which include Project Cargo, resupplying offshore oil rigs, moving wind components across the vast landscapes and over borders of Southern Africa, and bringing renewable energy power sources and equipment to rural villages in India…. Recognizing about half the fleet will be located in South America, the Arctic and sub-Saharan Africa, our vehicles have been tested and developed with the goal of global operations in all climates.”

Commercial traction and success with this technology will equal military traction, so Aeros’ success in reaching these targets, and operational performance, will be watched closely.

For more on this and other stories, please consider purchasing a membership.
If you are already a subscriber, login to your account.
Goo goo g’joob!By John MacNeill The Walrus heavy-transport blimp (“heavy” as in “1-2 million pounds”) was among a range of projects on the drawing board in the mid ’00s. It offered the potential for a faster and more versatile sealift substitute. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funded phase 1 contracts, but things seemed to end in 2006. Yet the imperatives driving the need for Walrus, or even for a much smaller version of it, remain. Is the Walrus dead? And could it, or a Hybrid Ultra Large Aircraft (HULA) like it, rise again? Recent presentations and initiatives in several US armed services, and some commercial ventures, indicate that it might. WALRUS/HULA: Concept & Key Technologies A key goal of DARPA’s Walrus program was to provide confidence that earlier airship-era limitations will be overcome. These limitations will apply to any Hybrid Ultra-Large Aircraft (HULA). Early foci of the program included investigation of advanced breakthrough technologies that will support the development of innovative lift and buoyancy concepts that do not rely on off-board ballast. Many airships depend on ballast to control their buoyancy, but this becomes problematic if one intends to carry military-class loads to dangerous areas. A craft with […]

One Source: Hundreds of programs; Thousands of links, photos, and analyses

DII brings a complete collection of articles with original reporting and research, and expert analyses of events to your desktop – no need for multiple modules, or complex subscriptions. All supporting documents, links, & appendices accompany each article.


  • Save time
  • Eliminate your blind spots
  • Get the big picture, quickly
  • Keep up with the important facts
  • Stay on top of your projects or your competitors


  • Coverage of procurement and doctrine issues
  • Timeline of past and future program events
  • Comprehensive links to other useful resources