Newest new Zeppelin is taking test flights. And *landings*.

It’s the first rigid-body airship since the Hindenburg, says the Register. And the military is banking on Pelican to change the way we fly:

The 230ft-long, 18-ton demonstrator has been built for the US military by radical airship firm Aeros of California, helmed by Ukrainian LTA visionary Igor Pasternak.

But the airship can potentially do things that planes can’t: specifically it can come down vertically or nearly vertically, like a helicopter, on an unimproved landing zone – and it can do so after a much longer trip than any realistic helicopter can make, as its engines only have to push it along rather than holding it up too.

Unfortunately, while airships until now have been able to bring troops to a landing site, actually getting them off the ship in a timely fashion without a disaster would normally involve venting off huge amounts of lifting gas. This would effectively take the ship out of play until it could be regassed. With helium – the only lifting gas acceptable in a modern ship, especially one headed into combat – expensive and difficult to resupply, this would render the whole idea impractical.

That’s where Igor Pasternak’s enigmatic Control Of Static Heaviness technology, which the Reg first reported on a few years ago, comes in. Details are closely held, but in outline it appears that COSH involves pumping helium from the ship’s lifting cells into containers where it is held at a higher pressure and becomes negatively buoyant.

Pasternak tells Av Week that the COSH gear aboard the new ship can vary the 36,000lb (16,329kg) ship’s weight by about 10 per cent. Combined with the use of vertical thrust for takeoff and landing and aerodynamic lift in transit, this should mean it is capable of unloading a useful cargo after a long flight without venting gas.

What goes up, must come down… but this ship can then go back up again. And that is a major feature.