Man Plans Race Around the World—in Blimps

Trip would take about six months
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2010 10:43 AM CDT

Don Hartsell has a dream. He’s put up $2 million in hopes of creating a round-the-globe blimp race. The ships would take off at the prime meridian on Sept. 23, 2011, and wouldn’t cross the finish line until March 20, 2012. “We want to establish an event that has people coming out of their home … coming outside, looking up and smiling,” he tells the Wall Street Journal.

But some aviation experts find the plan too whimsical to work. Goodyear foresees “significant operational challenges” to such a long race. Only around 35 dirigibles are currently operating, and while many owners are intrigued, none have signed up yet. Still, Hartsell has convinced Eurosport to broadcast the race, formed a partnership with UNESCO, and raised an additional $2 million. He thinks the race could make history—if even one blimp finishes, it’ll be the first airship to circumnavigate the globe. (More Don Hartsell stories.)

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