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PROGRAM FOR THE FUTURE

In the long term the Flying Kettle Project has two aspects: the Steam Balloon and the Steam Airship.

Realistically the Steam Airship, although a charming and intriguing concept, must be deferred for the time being. There are two reasons for this.

First is the question of cost. The expenses of leisurely development of a Steam Balloon are within the capacity of one not-very-wealthy individual on a hobby basis. But the cost of development of a Steam Airship can be expected to be an order of magnitude higher, even without allowing for blind alleys and false starts. Corporate funding will be essential.

Just as important, however, is the requirement of logical order.

The use of steam as LTA lift gas, by itself, is problematical in the sense that it has never yet been done. Breaking new ground is never easy, because unforeseen snags and hitches may always arise. Prediction based upon the principles of physics is effective, but only within limits; at some stage you have to shift out of the virtual world and try to implement the reality. And discretion advises not trying to learn about more than one new thing at a time.

Therefore we propose to continue steady development of a Steam Balloon - i.e. of an aerostat - while keeping the Steam Airship in the background for the future. As far as can be seen at the moment without concrete flight experience (because it is new), the Steam Balloon can be a practical and beneficial product in its own right. After gaining a couple of years' experience with flight using steam in balloons, and when we fully understand both the bright side and the dark side of steam lift gas, we will be ready to consider the question of setting out to make a powered Steam Airship, both steam-lofted and also steam-driven.

This step-by-step program also coincides with sound business planning. At the moment the concept is visionary and unproven. The very mention of the idea of a Steam Balloon or Steam Airship to the average man in the street provokes amusement and even derision. We do not view this reaction as a negative sign. On the contrary, it is very positive. It indicates that, when an actual first attempt at human Steam Flight becomes imminent and can be announced, the public profile of the Flying Kettle Project will rise dramatically. That is what a corporate sponsor wants to hear - publicity is what they pay for. If properly promoted, a first Steam Balloon flight has the potential to become international news and to appear on CNN. Further flights will attract sustained local and perhaps more widespread coverage. Since no world records in the Steam LTA field have yet been set, they are obviously all available for the taking. And, if the Project develops to the Steam Airship stage, the publicity for our Sponsor will be massive and ongoing. And we will need a Sponsor!

SO, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?

(as of the beginning of 2001)

(A) We are going to persevere with the program of experiments. Particularly, we want to elaborate the technique of making a large durable insulating jacket out of Primaloft; we rather think that a constructional technique a bit more technical than simple quilting is desirable.

(B) We are going to continue with the production of a very large ground-based burner/boiler combination. The complete design is not yet finalized, but it is clear that an adequate unit will be a bulky and heavy piece of equipment, mounted upon a big trailer. In principle it should be able to operate on either solid fuel or heating oil. The level of technology required is not challenging, but the scale and cost are fairly hefty.

(C) We intend to make the pioneering Steam Balloon flight. This will be a "naked dribble" type flight - see the discussion of flight modes here - no insulating jacket or flight boiler will be required - and if possible we intend initially to fill the envelope using a rented steam generator. The equipment for such a flight is almost complete.

Hopefully this first record-setting flight will attract great publicity - it certainly should! If this enables us to attract corporate support for the project we will be able to proceed at a much more steady pace.....

(D) We will then continue with a series of dribble flights in various conditions. As soon as possible we want to make an effective insulating jacket, so that we can start learning about the problems of ground-handling its great bulk in various conditions.

(E) We will continue with the design and prototyping of a flight boiler. This type of boiler has never been contemplated before, because the requirements of steam flight are unique, so its development will require some evolution; the first one we build inevitably cannot be optimum in lightness or performance.



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