Oh Canada, Bring Me My Zeppelin

Canada has at last entered the Zeppelin Age, and it looks as if Calgary, Alberta will be the first city to make the leap into an alternate history where people use giant, helium-filled balloons to move stuff around instead of trucks or trains. A Calgary-based company called SkyHook, working with Boeing, has developed what they call the Jess Heavy Lifter (JHL-40) or a "blimp on steroids." This is no pleasure cruiser, though. It's seriously mega, and will be used for transporting heavy loads in areas of northern Canada where there are no roads.

According to the CBC:

The JHL-40 takes elements of a blimp and a helicopter to lift up to 40 tonnes in one load and travel up to 320 kilometres without refuelling. It will have a top speed of 70 knots. Company officials said Tuesday the aircraft should help oil and gas companies in particular because they'll be able to use it to transport equipment and materials without having to build roads in remote regions.

The zeppelins are going to be rolled out in 2012. I'm looking forward to passenger model to take me up to northern Saskatchewan, so I can hang out by the lakes all summer long in a land without roads. (Thanks, Andrew!)

Blimp on Steroids [CBC]