Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's ... an Aeroscraft?
A Tarzana, Calif., company has been working on a new kind of aircraft that looks more like a flying cruise liner than anything inhabiting the skies today.
"It's not a blimp, it's not an airship, it's a totally new vehicle," said Edward Pevzner, business development manager for Worldwide Aeros Corp.
"Today we have three types of vehicles -- air vehicles, which are airplanes, helicopters and airships [blimps]. So this Aeroscraft, as we're going to call it, is going to be the fourth type. And it is going to combine technologies of all three other vehicles."
Roughly the size of two football fields, the Aeroscraft can be used as a military transport for troops, artillery and equipment; as a cargo transport service in the spirit of Federal Express or UPS; as a commuter transport service; and as a luxury travel option.
The Aeroscraft moves much slower than a conventional airplane -- a coast-to-coast trip would take about 18 hours.
But for the luxury traveler or businessman on the go who might be willing to pay the high price of a first-class airline ticket, it's not about getting there fast; it's about enjoying the trip, Pevzner said.
"The Aeroscraft is not going to take you to New York in six hours -- it'll take you to New York in 18 hours -- but you'll have your own room to sleep and rest in during the flight, you'll have a meal in a restaurant -- it'll be a restaurant meal instead of airplane food," he said. "You'll be able to work if you need to in a normal environment, and once you reach New York you will not need a 10-hour rest for your next meeting, so you'll come out of the Aeroscraft and you'll be able to conduct business right away."
Pevzner said that when configured as a cruise ship, the craft would able to hold about 250 people as well as offer a wealth of amenities.
Restaurants, nightclubs, spas, casinos and sleep cabins are among the facilities the craft could come outfitted with -- just like a luxury ocean liner.
Commuters in places like the Hawaiian Islands could make their daily trek to work a little more enjoyable, Pevzner said.
"Currently, they just have these little boats," he said. "The Aeroscraft will provide not just the commuting service, it also will provide a very nice cruise adventure where you fly over all these beautiful places, and it flies relatively low, so it'll provide you with nice views and a nice travel experience."
Taxpayers would also save money because the craft is capable of vertical takeoff and landing -- just like a helicopter -- so there are many more options for where it can land, unlike an airplane, which needs a runway, or a cruise ship, which needs a dock.
For the military, Pevzner said, the benefit would be the ease of movement for hundreds of tons of cargo, units or equipment into battle with relative ease.
Instead of having troops travel by plane and equipment travel by boat, the Aeroscraft would make sure everything gets there at the same time and for much less money than with current methods.