AEM 1301 - Ballooning: Design, Build, and Fly

Lighter-than-air vehicles have a long history including, though not starting with, the first flights to carry people (under hot-air balloons) in the late 1700s in France. The use of hydrogen, then later helium, as lifting gas allowed balloons to carry payloads to much higher altitudes, including into the stratosphere. Tethered balloons were used for military applications during the American Civil War, WWI, and WWII. By the 1930s self-propelled rigid airships, such as German Zeppelins, and non-rigid airships, often called blimps, regularly carried passengers and cargo across the Atlantic. In this hands-on course we will hone a variety of useful design/build skills, including microcontroller programming, soldering, CAD, and radio control, then design and build miniature airships and use them to perform missions in indoor flying spaces. The main flight event, possibly styled as a competition, will be a required day-long class activity on a weekend date late in the semester (and announced at the start of the semester). The class will also include balloon-related experiments and data analysis, plus historical presentations about ballooning. This is a freshman seminar course, you must be a true freshman to take it.