Should Airships Make a Comeback?

Should Airships Make a Comeback?

Will we see a new generation of airships roaming our skies? Head to to start building your own website for free.

If you’re looking for a molecular modeling kit, try Snatoms – a kit I invented where the atoms snap together magnetically –

Thank you to Eli Dourado for letting us explore the argument he describes in his article:

A huge thank you to Dan Grossman and Nick Allman for their time, help, and expertise.

Also a massive thank you to those who helped us understand the world of modern airships, and provided valuable feedback – Prof. Barry Prentice, Gennadiy Verba, Prof.
Christoph Pflaum, Heather Roszczyk, Dr. Casey Handmer, Richard Van Trueren, & Thibault Proux.

We are also grateful for the collaboration of the companies who are working hard to make this comeback happen – Atlas LTA, Buoyant Aircraft Systems International, Hybrid Air Vehicles, LTA Research, & Flying Whales.


How Airships Could Overcome a Century of Failure, Bloomberg Originals via YouTube –

Why the Airship May Be the Future of Air Travel, Undecided with Matt Ferrell via YouTube –

Airship, Wikipedia –

Handmer, C. (2020). A quick note on airships. Casey Handmer’s Blog –

UNCTAD (2020). Review of Maritime Transport 2020 –

National Transportation Research Center (2023). Freight Analysis Framework Version 5 (FAF5) –

Hybrid Air Vehicles (2023). HAV –

LTA Research (2023). Lighter Than Air (LTA) Research –

OceanSkyCruises (2023). North Pole Expedition – OceanSkyCruises –

Flying Whales (2023). Flying Whales –

Buoyant Aircraft Systems International (2023). BASI –

Atlas LTA (2023). Atlas Electric Airships | Atlas LTA Airships –

Prentice, B. (2021). Hydrogen gas-fuelled airships could spur development in remote communities. The Conversation –

Grossman, D. (2009). The Hindenburg Disaster. Airships –

Hindenburg Disaster, Wikipedia –

What happened to the Hindenburg?, Jared Owen via Youtube –

National Museum of the U.S. Navy. USS Akron (ZRS-4) –

USS Akron, Wikipedia –

Special thanks to our Patreon supporters:
Adam Foreman, Amadeo Bee, Anton Ragin, Balkrishna Heroor, Benedikt Heinen, Bernard McGee, Bill Linder, Burt Humburg, Dave Kircher, Diffbot, Evgeny Skvortsov, Gnare, Jesse Brandsoy, John H. Austin, Jr., john kiehl, Josh Hibschman, Juan Benet, KeyWestr, Lee Redden, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Mario Bottion, MaxPal, Meekay, meg noah, Michael Krugman, Orlando Bassotto, Paul Peijzel, Richard Sundvall, Sam Lutfi, Stephen Wilcox, Tj Steyn, TTST, Ubiquity Ventures

Written by Casper Mebius & Derek Muller
Directed by Casper Mebius
Edited by Jack Saxon
Filmed by Derek Muller, Jamie MacLeod, Han Evans, & Raquel Nuno
Animation by Mike Radjabov & Fabio Albertelli
Additional video/photos supplied by Getty Images, Pond5, & Envato Elements
Music from Epidemic Sound & Pond5
Produced by Casper Mebius, Derek Muller, & Han Evans

More footage & photos from:
Thermite Rail Welding video by dulevoz via YouTube –

O’Rourke, T. (2016). Chronicle Covers: When the Hindenburg burst into flames. San Francisco Chronicle –

Wind turbine blade transport video by DOLL Fahrzeugbau via YouTube –

Wind turbine blade transport through mountains video by CGTN via Youtube –

Former Airship Hangar by Stefan Kühn –

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31 Responses

  1. Veritasium says:

    We posted this video yesterday, but took it down soon after when we noticed an error. Here’s take 2 – thank you for watching!

  2. Avasam says:

    I’d love to explore the challenges to anchoring the airship and pulling it down as opposed to trying to constantly push it down with propellers.

  3. Robin Courson says:

    One of my close friends tried to start an airship company. In college we built together a small model airship, which unfortunately, was uncontrollable and flew away in the wind. That guy changed his mind and started a balloon company instead 😂

    I also had the chance to meet a senior airship expert (fantastic guy, he was one of the few to practice competitive ballooning – a very selective and skill-based sport, and also former flying whales employee if I remember), and his honest opinion was “airships are an amazing passion, but they have the slightest chance to work”
    Also coincidentally, another friend of mine works at Latitude (a french rocket company) and their plan to carry the rocket to the launchpad in northern Scotland (in the Shetland islands) is to use flying whales airships. Make sense since the transport there is so difficult and the rocket is a large piece 😁

  4. Mercenaryow says:

    This large Zeppelin hangar with its 360m length that you have shown is located near Berlin. A few years ago, Germany tried to technically implement this dream, but unfortunately failed. In the meantime, this hangar is home to a leisure park called Tropical Island. You can even parachute onto a beach from a platform under the ceiling there. That’s how huge the building is 😀

  5. Micaiah Weaver says:

    I always loved Zepplins, and had a massive book on the history of zepplins as a kid. Glad to see Veritasium giving them the attention they deserve.

  6. asm2750 says:

    I remember reading a book on rigid airships and how this concept would appear in the future. That was 30 years ago. I do hope it happens it’s an interesting idea.

  7. Tartan Sauce says:

    I actually wrote my senior thesis many years ago about how airships occupy a nice place economically for shipping. I keep waiting for them to make a comeback.

  8. SteichenFamily says:

    What about the massive twisting loads that could be imparted on it’s structure by a nearby thunderstorm and microburst? You can’t run away from thunderstorms when the ship is too big to park in a hangar, and to slow to run, so it’s going to have to be strong enough to weather the storms.

    • Ben Ny says:

      I think they are actually quite resilient in rough weather. Most importantly they have to be in the air and not anchored. But yeah you can’t really control them in rough weather they just get blown away. But if they don’t collide that’s not the worst. Maybe you could even use it to your advantage if you are smart about it.

    • Yet Another says:

      There actually were hangars large enough to accommodate airships back in the day. Alas, most of them have been torn down over the years.

    • Name says:

      I imagine they would have to leave the area if a big storm was coming.

    • mill 27 says:

      ​@Yet Another
      Not to mention necessary is a key factor in invention. If they need hangers that large, they can potentially build hangers that large.

  9. Stefan F says:

    I wonder if they could fit each Sky Whale with a Baleen-inspired ballast system.. Fly through clouds to collect moisture in the baleen filters that could line the front of the Dirigible, separate the Hydrogen from the Oxygen to supplement the hydrogen supply, and store or release excess water freely as mist/rain. this would effectively give them a swim-bladder, and even allow them to refuel if they land on water.

  10. Cruros says:

    I feel like one of the greatest challenges, even if everything else was accounted for and worked out, would be the weather. Ships can weather storms and planes move fast enough to be able to route around storms, but a giant slow airship would likely get either caught by bad storms or need to consistently ground to avoid them.

    • Michael Schauperl says:

      Or to fly high above the clouds. And stay up until the weather fits… could probably be weeks somtimes

    • SpyroNew says:

      I can’t help but think of that super tall trashcan building in New York with the strategic gaps to prevent it from falling over during intense winds/storms. May not make sense to put holes in a gigantic balloon though.

    • Blowfeld20k says:

      @Michael Schauperl
      Above the clouds?? (facepalm)
      Oh, you mean at the altitude where your crew members need pressurized environments and life support systems, which are notoriously heavy.
      Even if this wasn’t a big issue with this idea, the fact that many thunderheads can top out at 70,000′ functionally means it’s not possible to just “fly high” enough to avoid big storms!!!

    • Stephen J says:

      Weather was the downfall of the USS Akron and USS Macon “Flying Aircraft Carriers.” They were both destroyed in storms.

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