Aircraft

Zeppy 3: wind-powered airship to attempt Mediterranean crossing

Zeppy 3 will shortly sail across a stretch of Mediterranean waters using only the power of the wind and a curved carbon foil based on the chien de mer by Didier Costes
Zeppy 3 will shortly sail across a stretch of Mediterranean waters using only the power of the wind and a curved carbon foil based on the chien de mer by Didier Costes
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Stephane Rousson shows off Zeppy 3 to visitors at this year's Green Air Show in Paris recently
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Stephane Rousson shows off Zeppy 3 to visitors at this year's Green Air Show in Paris recently
Zeppy 3 draws a crowd outside the hanger at Le Bourget in Paris
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Zeppy 3 draws a crowd outside the hanger at Le Bourget in Paris
Catching the sun at the Green Air Show in Paris, Zeppy 3 with Stephane Rousson
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Catching the sun at the Green Air Show in Paris, Zeppy 3 with Stephane Rousson
The chien de mer foil originally designed by Didier Costes
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The chien de mer foil originally designed by Didier Costes
The pilot cradle underneath Zeppy 3
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The pilot cradle underneath Zeppy 3
Stephane Rousson takes time to chat to visitors about Zeppy 3
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Stephane Rousson takes time to chat to visitors about Zeppy 3
Stephane Rousson demonstrating the controls of Zeppy 3 at Le Bourget in Paris
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Stephane Rousson demonstrating the controls of Zeppy 3 at Le Bourget in Paris
Zeppy 3 will shortly sail across a stretch of Mediterranean waters using only the power of the wind and a curved carbon foil based on the chien de mer by Didier Costes
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Zeppy 3 will shortly sail across a stretch of Mediterranean waters using only the power of the wind and a curved carbon foil based on the chien de mer by Didier Costes
The gorgeous Zeppy 3 helium-filled balloon at the Paris Green Air Show
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The gorgeous Zeppy 3 helium-filled balloon at the Paris Green Air Show

Preparations are underway for a 150 mile journey from southern France to Corsica in a sail balloon. High flyer Stéphane Rousson is planning to pilot Zeppy 3 across a stretch of Mediterranean waters using only the power of the wind and a curved carbon foil based on the chien de mer by Didier Costes. Gizmag took the opportunity to have a closer look at the new balloon at the recent Paris Green Air Show.

Rousson is no stranger to Gizmag. As well as the ambitious WINDREAM ONE project, an attempt at a crossing of the English Channel has also been featured. The airship used in the latter has been subjected to some serious modifications, tweaks and testing since then and will shortly be sailing across Mediterranean waters at up to twice the speed of the wind thanks to a modified chien de mer first outed with WINDREAM ONE.

Stephane Rousson shows off Zeppy 3 to visitors at this year's Green Air Show in Paris recently
Stephane Rousson shows off Zeppy 3 to visitors at this year's Green Air Show in Paris recently

The 65.6 feet long and 16.4 feet wide Zeppy 3 recently on display at Le Bourget in Paris is filled with 200 cubic meters of helium. An adjustable cable (from just over 65 feet in length to 164 feet) will run from the pilot's cradle to the curved carbon foil skimming the surface of the water. The airship itself will then act like a huge sail, stabilized in the water by the chien de mer so that it can fly head to wind, traveling at up to twice the wind speed.

The chien de mer foil originally designed by Didier Costes
The chien de mer foil originally designed by Didier Costes

Rousson is hoping to take the wind-powered Zeppy 3 from Toulon in the south of France over to Calvi in northern Corsica some time in September or October. The 150 mile trip (as the crow flies) is expected to take between 10 and 15 hours, depending on weather conditions.

5 comments
skyship007
Hi folks, Very interesting way of using a blimp. Not sure how the aerodynamics work out in speed and angle to the wind terms as it is a very odd way of flying. To make sense the crossing would have to be against the wind, otherwise it is just another balloon crossing. I hope Stephane can swim as there does appear to be some rather low flying involved. If you want to see more on modern airships, past, present and future see: www.airshipblimp.com or if you just want a helium sniffing laugh try www.airship.me the worlds only lighter than air comedy site, with lots of funny pictures and U tube links fit for all the family. Regards Bond, James Bond. (Skyship blimp pilot in a View to a Kill)
Dan Vasii
The 65.6 feet long and 16.4 feet wide Zeppy 3 recently on display at Le Bourget in Paris is filled with 200 square meters of helium. I\'d like very much to see one square meter of gas in front of me. Pleaseeee......
piolenc
This is great. Burgess demonstrated that it was possible to sail airships at sea in his US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics Design Memorandum No. 322 of July 1939, but I had yet to see his calculations proven in real life. There was a rumor that the scheme had been tested off the California coast using a Goodyear commercial blimp, but I have never been able to find the slightest confirmation of that, and I am quite sure that Goodyear would never have risked one of their advertising ships without a formal contract and insurance. By the way, Burgess showed that it was possible to sail within a few points of the wind line even with the bare envelope of a blimp - no sail, in other words - which suggests that Zeppy 3 may do very well indeed. I am eager to see the result of this venture. One thing, though: this is a very odd sailing craft indeed, and there is no precedent for it, so I hope that M. Rousson has budgeted both time and money for a shakedown period during which the bugs will be fumigated and piloting skills honed to perfection. The Mediterranean can be treacherous.
Anumakonda Jagadeesh
We have known using wind to sail ships and now airship! Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
jeffrey
I wish you would have explained how the controls worked. what are the pedals for? and the two big wheels?