Feeds

Homemade airship prang closes highway in Oklahoma

79-year-old unlicensed pilot-inventor grilled by feds

Business security measures using SSL

A homemade airship went out of control above Oklahoma last week and came down on an interstate motorway, causing startled highway patrolmen to hurriedly close several lanes to traffic.

According to reports, the 79-year-old pilot and inventor of the craft was uninjured - but is now in trouble with the feds for not possessing either a pilot's licence or an airworthiness certificate for his craft.

KXII news in Ardmore, Oklahoma reports that local hotelier Marvin Polzein, 79, who built the rogue dirigible in his spare time, has been involved in previous blimp-related mishaps. The craft apparently crashed in the town suburbs last May following an engine failure.

Polzein was unhurt on that occasion as well, but having left his air yacht inadequately tied down for the night following the prang was embarrassed to find that it had broken loose and flown away. The errant machine was eventually recovered 110 miles away in the vicinity of the town of Decatur.

"Things just didn't go right," Polzein told KXII on that occasion. "It's going to work and I think I’m almost there. It's a learning experience," he added.

Polzein has been working on his homemade airship since the late '90s along with a couple of friends. Early models were discarded after being found to leak "like a sieve". The gondola design reportedly features a "plastic patio chair" for the pilot. Control is accomplished using a swivelling engine mounted at the tail, rather than the more usual rudders and tailplanes. Polzein has taught himself to fly the ship by a process of trial and error.

Apparently the swivelling steering engine is the ship's weak point: it was responsible for the May prang, and its mounting apparently failed again causing last week's disaster. According to Polzein he was forced to come down on the interstate to avoid an even more dangerous descent into trees.

"I discovered that my design is faulty, so it's back in the shed now and I'm just going to can it now until next summer," he says.

However the blimp-happy septuagenarian has apparently attracted the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who have enquired whether he holds a current pilot's licence, medical certificate or airworthiness documents for the airship. Reportedly Polzein possesses none of these.

The plucky aeronaut remains undaunted.

"I know myself. I'll get back on it again. I'll make the corrections, and we'll try it again," he tells KXII. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.