OK, talked with my friend John Powell (JP) the President/owner of JP Aerospace, on Monday (June 18,2007).
I showed him the pictures and he watched the video. I then asked him, "Was it one of ours?" and if not, then whose?
According to JP, what we are seeing in the the LA video is definetly NOT
one of JPA's airships run amok; although he said it did look very
similar to a much earlier flight vehicle, dubbed "Away16".
With the exception of the now defunct "Ascender"-series, which was flown out of Fort Stockton, Texas, all JPA vehicles are launched from Black Rock,
Now this is where it gets interesting.
If it wasn't one of JPA's vehicles, who could have lofted such a thing?
JP concurred that the USAF had, under the terms of the contract, retained all the Ascender prototypes, including the wreckage from Ft. Stockton. And,
although he offered no evidence, he implied, with a degree of certainty, that the Air Force had
re-built and test-flown the rig. However, he
insisted that not even on it's worst day would anyone in the USAF be reckless enough to launch an Ascender-type vehicle anywhere near a populated
area, certainly not one the size of downtown Los Angeles!
So if not an experimental airship, what was it?
JP speculates that what we are seeing is an inflated architectural structure known as an "Air Beam", that somehow has broken free of its
Air Beams are typically fabric-covered, air inflated tubes used to support various temporary outdoor shelter structures. Things like hangers and field
hospitals and mess tents. They can be huge in that they are designed to span large internal areas without additional internal support columns.
The problem with air beams is that because of thier size, JP said, they contain huge amounts of air, and when that air is even slightly warmed by the
sun, it generates an enormous amount of lifting force; just like a hot air balloon. Unfortunately, a lot of the folks erecting these inflated
structures fail to recognize this solar heating lift factor, and as a result, fail to properly and sufficiently anchor the air beams to the ground.
JP suggests that, given the date, the time, the geographic location of the sighting, and the speed and direction of the prevailing winds at the time
of the sighting, it should be possible to locate the launch point of the structure. He then suggested that we check the building permits office for
anyone seeking to erect a structure as large as the one this air beam appears to have escaped from, would have been required to have filed for a
It is unlikely that whoever lost this thing is going to report it. The potential liability issues involved (a large air beam can weight hundreds of
pounds when deflated), in terms of personal injury, property damage and as a hazard to air navigation and ground traffic, are extreme. Consider;
during the day, solar heating might keep the thing aloft, but as night falls, the warm air in the beam cools and the beam, all hundreds of pounds of
it, falls to earth.
So there's your mission, should you decide to accept it!
Who lost their air beam in LA that day? Who had filed for a building permit for a large inflateble structure in the area, and then didn't report its
loss, thus risking the public's safety? There's your "worm".
On a side note, and in a kind of "David vs. Goliath-esque"vein, JP does know Mr. Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace, and would love to have some of BA's
money. But JP concedes that the likelyhood of that happening is rather remote. Seems there is a bit of an unofficial rivalry going on between the two
companies: and JPA seems to have the upper hand currently.
Appears that, as part of their marketing strategies, Both
companies had offered their clients the opportunity to have their corporate logos
photographed "From Space" (for a fee, of course!). I'm told that none of the Bigelow photos turned out to be useable: their camera malfunctiond
and all the shots were blurred.
Meanwhile, every JPA client has recieved a crystal-clear shot of their logo with the limb of the earth as a back-drop...for considerably less than
Bigelow was charging.
Also, JPA plans to roll out an entirely new vehicle in the Fall of 2007, possible as early as September. JP would not tell me just what this new
vehicle was; simply that it was "something entirely new"and "never seen before".
I can now say that I have seen Proof
that the "Airship-To-Orbit (ATO)" concept CAN
work! But I will say nothing more on that topic
Suffice to say that Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold, and it is Very
cold at the edge of Space!