What problems might I run into if I live in an airship?

I would like to entertain the possibility to park tethered to a sky scraper in an unpowered airship in order to save money and travel time. I understand there are restricted air spaces, regulations and power lines. Any ideas that would make this life style work or on a budget for just 1 person?

The airship would function like a basic house boat in city area's (and perhaps as temporary housing in rural area's like some sort of prefab mobile home? That a option Muze? Edit this away.) there would be removable propulsion system like a helicopter to move the airship if needed.

It is assumed that most airships can be trusted and do not crash as airship construction and technology grow with other technologies. .

The question is "What technical problems have to be overcome to make airship housing possible?". The answer gives with reasons why this would or would not be possible considering the problems it would face.

For humor you can use mister Smith. He and his brothers will sleep in an airship house and note their experiences. "Once per year Smith finds his house relocated several kilometers away by a storm/faulty tethers/whatever, possibly stuck to a mountain or skyscraper" for example.

Related: Could a city be built out of Balloons?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Are you really sure you want science-based answers? The corpus of work to cite on personal aerostats seems rather small. Aerostats in general can be very dangerous - you don't need hidden problems...you just need to sleep or work for a few hours while that thunderstorm or front approaches and promptly makes you violently homeless. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Aug 10 '19 at 3:15
  • $\begingroup$ You only get to ask one query. The other one should perhaps be made into a separate question. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Aug 10 '19 at 3:59
  • $\begingroup$ You might get a better mileage asking this on the aeronautics stack... $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Aug 10 '19 at 5:10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You are not asking a specific and answerable question. You are asking for a list (potentially endless) of problems, without a metric to evaluate them. This is too broad and opinion based $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Aug 10 '19 at 5:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Demigan just to be different and live in a large city without needing to buy property right next to the tower you work. Real estate in some places would cost more than a blimp. $\endgroup$ – Muze Aug 10 '19 at 14:13

Allright I'm basing it off of this: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UsefulNotes/Airships

Unlike what others have said, airships are actually exceptionally durable, rule of thumb for storms it can handle is an average speed the same as the maximum speed of the ship and the airship is one of the only vehicles that benefits from the square cube law. The bigger it is the more liftinggas it has and the less surface area compared to volume it has for the wind to push it. Even the WWII airships could reach maximum speeds of 130 to 150km/h and hybrid airships can reach a whopping 225km/h. Consider the beaufort windscale (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaufort_scale) where violent storm winds (windspeed 11) reach 117km/h and hurricane force (windspeed 12 the highest) is 118km/h and higher and you can fly in most weather even if you had a WWII airship! Here's a piece from the link:

"In the same way, some hot airships are blown backwards in a light breeze, but on the other hand, in the 1950s an American naval blimp program manned an Arctic airborne early warning station continuously for 10 days in the winter. The weather was the area's worst in years, grounding all other military and commercial airplanes with combinations and variations of ice, snow, rain, fog, and 65 mph (104km/h) winds. The airships went on sorties that lasted for days, in extremely heavy icing conditions, and succeeded in their mission with no crashes- effectively crushing the misconception that airships are inherently more vulnerable to weather than other aircraft."

Even with hydrogen airships remain highly resistant to crashes. During the first world war it took entire drums of incenendary ammo to light an airship on fire. Today a small airship can take 500 bullets and 2 hours before there is a danger of crashing, larger one's can take thousands of holes. And the Hindenburg took a while to become engulfed in flames. It took long enough that most of its occupants could jump out and escape during the (crash) landing sequence.

Most accidents with airships in storms happened because of human error such as overconfidence in the airship during storms causing the pilot to brave one they shouldnt have.

Now to the actual answer, what problems would you expect?

  • flying and especially take-off and landing is hard. Airships fly more like seaworthy ships than aircraft. Pilots were often sea captains for this reason.

  • you need prepared sites to land, or have special towers to hook on to. Hybrid airships can land more conventionally and some modern technology lets you land airships on the ground but I expect these to still require teams, not a single dude doing a soul-searching world trip. Hybrid airships are likely your best bet as they require the least equipment to land and only require a short runway to land or take off.

  • cost. Airships are relatively cheaper than similar size aircraft, relative is the key word here. This isnt a cheap old car where if the engine stalls you can pull over and see what's wrong. You would have to do a lot of maintenance and care to make sure your airship stays safe and operational. If airships somehow became widely used and cheap you could reduce this problem.

I actually had a similar idea for airships but thought of using them as superyachts. The fact that no multi-millionair has put exorbitant money into one just to show off a luxurious moveable home is a mystery to me.

  • $\begingroup$ Other comments on airship durability were based upon lack-of-crew during the hours when the occupant was sleeping, working, playing games, etc., since the OP did not specify this as a luxury yacht. Completely agree that a vessel with trained and on-duty crew can resist quite harsh weather. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Aug 10 '19 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 I hadnt thought about that. I would like some information about that if you have it. The part about superyachts is just my own thoughts on airships I want to use in another story and not related to the answer. Although it is both mute now as the question has been narrowed down (before my edit) to a flying house with rarely any movement. So when not in use the tethers and hooks it is attached to should be considered rather than a manned fully functional airship. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Aug 10 '19 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ For the original scope of the question, this is an excellent answer. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Aug 10 '19 at 16:38

Main Issues

The principal issue I find is, first and foremost, you'll never have a blimp big enough. For every person or thing or load of groceries or increased battery / solar panel capacity, you need ever more lift gas which means you need ever larger ship size. The longer you want to remain aloft, the more fuel, the more groceries, the more fresh water you'll need.

Next, you'll lack resupply facilities. At your home base, you've got your hangar, workshop, spare parts stores, etc. When you're a thousand miles from home and realise you forgot to pack extra toilet paper and you're running low on groceries anyway, where are you going to restock and refuel? Walmart just doesn't have the facilities to handle an airship. This of course can be mitigated by only flying to a friend's hangar or to a municipal aerodrome. Then you still have the problem of getting to and from the grocery store. Since this is your house, you'll naturally have a car in the garage. You'll need a bigger airship!

If you work in any kind of urban or suburban area, you'll not likely find many parking spaces for an airship, so that's another problem.

Travelling the world means needing to stock even larger than normal quantities of food, water, fuel and other consumable supplies. On the up side, at least you can empty the toilets anywhere you like without any inconvenience to yourself or your guests!

  • Airships need ballast and lifting gas to maintain their altitude. Water is reasonably cheap, just heavy. Hydrogen is flammable, so the other option is helium which is expensive. This will be much more of a concern than food and drinking water.
  • Airships don't do well in storms. Good airship captains solve that by never flying into storms if they can help it, making great detours.
  • One guy with an airship is a famous eccentric. Many guys with airships are nuisances. But if there is just one guy, where does the ground infrastructure come from?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.