Tag: Balloons

World Wide Welkin

What would you think if you hear the words “pilotless plane” and “powerful laser” in one sentence? Probably you’d panic. Don’t panic, though. Facebook’s solar-powered drone prototype Aquila is here to bring access to Internet for more than 5 billion people.

Despite the scarce technical details, we know that Aquila is part of Facebook’s giant project to spread signal to remote areas, where there is no terrestrial infrastructure, and where such infrastructure cannot be built for many reasons such as challenging terrain, lack of funding, ongoing armed conflicts and so on.

With a wingspan greater than that of a Boeing 737, Internet.org says that Aquila is one of a future fleet of drones to beam high-speed Internet coverage to those two thirds of the world that are not connected to the Web yet.

Facebook Internet Beaming Drone

Facebook has yet to deal with all the regulatory restrictions that the respective countries impose on their radio spectrum. Safety is another important question that the company needs to deal with before the first plane takes off – both related to the safety of commercial and civil aircrafts as well as the safety level of the laser communication technology used.

Space Race

Facebook is not alone in its attempt to provide free or affordable Internet access to rural and remote areas. Google, too, plans to use unmanned planes as well as balloons floating in the stratosphere in order to create a net of Internet-beaming vehicles.

Naturally, both Aquila and Google Loon are related to the companies’ wish to provide quality access to their services. The technologies as well as the aims are similar – both Google and Facebook plan to use unmanned aircrafts – pilotless superlight solar-powered drones. While Facebook is still at the prototype level, Google’s Loon is already a fact. As to the unmanned planes – the tests are announced to start this summer.

So, may the battle of the drones begin!


5 Facts About Flying Balloons Everyone Thinks are True

If you are a fan of flying, as ardent as perhaps Sir Richard Branson is, then you probably know what’s true and what is not about flying balloons – from their shape, features, mechanism and possibilities.

Hot air balloon

Some people, however, have a pretty romantic or naïve idea of balloons, which lets them believe some myths. While we can’t blame them for falling in love with the idea of flying, we want to share with you some popular facts that most people think are true. But are not!

Don’t spill the beans

Many people believe that a balloon flying up in the skies is the perfect place to propose. What? No, please don’t! When you are up in the skies you can’t speak about matters of such gravity, because the only think you can hear is the roar of the hot air burner. So, unless you are a brilliant mime artist, hold your peace at least till you touch down.

Air sickness

Air sickness is a perfectly normal condition in healthy people, making them feel bad or even lose their lunch during the flight. While many people believe that closing your eyes might alleviate the situation, they are all wrong – closing your eyes or trying to sleep during a balloon flight (what a waste!) will only aggravate the symptoms as this results in a conflict between the eyes and the vestibular system. So, keep your eyes wide open.

One-way ticket to open space

Can a hot air balloon leave the Earth and off it go into open space? Nope! As with all machines capable of flight, hot air balloons aren’t able to fly beyond the atmosphere. Felix Baumgartner‘s epic jump from the edge of space took place with a sliiiightly different balloon. So fear not, you can’t leave the earth with a hot-air balloon.

Balloons give wings

Popular myth has it that a bunch of helium-filled balloons can easily lift a kiddo off the ground. While a little bum might not be safe with as many as a thousand balloons attached to it, the myth busters prove that any number of balloons that a kid can feasibly lay its hands on can’t take it to the skies.

Shape of the shapes

Some people think that a balloon cannot stay aloft unless it’s in the traditional teardrop shape. In fact, there are many forms and sizes such as a castle, a ball, a popular shape from Angry Birds and what not. If you are a fan of special shapes, you can see many unusual balloons during international balloon fiestas, or during the Festival of Ballooning.

Unusual shape balloons

Now you’re super prepared to take to the skies. Don’t forget that in the UK as well as in most European countries, you need to hold a Private Pilot’s Licence in order to fly a hot air balloon. Although it might seem like a perfect retreat in nature’s splendour, please, don’t improvise with your granddad’s balloon and make sure you hold a licence.

Have a nice flight!