Dissecting a Blimp

The blimp tradition started in 1925, when Goodyear built its first helium-filled public relations airship. A look at the anatomy of a blimp today:

a QuickTime movie with voice-over 

  dot1. TAIL
Earlier-model blimps: Aligned in "+" formation; vertical control surfaces called rudders and horizontal control surfaces called elevators. Rudders controlled left-to-right movement; elevators controlled up-and-down.
Today's blimp's: Aligned in "x" formation; each piece of the tail contributes to guiding the vertical and horizontal direction of the blimp; because they are combination rudders and elevators, they are sometimes called "ruddervators" 
dot2. ENVELOPE: Holds the helium that makes the blimp lighter than air; made of two-ply polyester fabric 
dot3. BALLONETS: Air bags inside the envelope that helps maintain a constant pressure 
dot4. CATENARY CURTAIN: Cemented to the inside of the envelope, it supports the blimp with cables 
dot5. NOSE CONE BATTENS: Support blimp's nose; also used to help with anchoring 
dot6. SECONDARY MOORING: Used to secure blimp to the top of the ground crew's bus 
dot7. AIR VALVES: Let air escape from ballonet to maintain envelope pressure 
dot8. GONDOLA: Seats eight passengers and two pilots 
dot9. RAILING: Allows ground crew to hold blimp during take off and landing; crew also uses it to "weigh" blimp before take off to determine the amount of ballast needed to compensate for fuel that will be burned during the trip; crew grabs railing on both sides of gondola and lets go in unison -- if blimp rises, it is light; if it drops, it's heavy 
dot10. LANDING GEAR: One retractable wheel helps steady the blimp during landing procedures 
dot11. TURBINE ENGINES: Provide blimp's thrust; they rotate, giving the pilot greater control over the blimp's movement 
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