Roses And The Hindenburg

A cross between an airship and an airplane with a bit of helicopter thrown in, hailed as the ‘aircraft of the twenty first century’, a helium filled hull, can fly for up to five days when manned, two days when unmanned, needs no runway, can land on any surface, including water, can be used for cargo, communication and survey and has, compared to other forms of air transport, a ‘significantly lower carbon footprint’. It is called the Airlander 10.


The Airlander is an hybrid air vehicle, originally developed for the military. It was then known as HAV-3 and part of a Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) programme, intended for ISR, which we all know, stands for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. Now it has been re-activated for commercial use. It is slow, (100mph), relatively green, loud as far as I can tell from the company’s promo video, looks like a blown-up zeppelin and, from a certain angle, features a rather unfortunate resemblance to a human bottom. And it is called Airlander 10. Did I mention that?

The Airlander 10 is not a zeppelin. The Airlander 10 uses helium not hydrogen (1,3 million cubic feet of helium as compared to the Hindenburg’s 7 million cubic feet of hydrogen), it can go up to 20000ft, not 650ft, is 300ft long which is less than half of the Hindenburg’s 800ft. Yes, yes, I know. And I am sure that there are many other specifics of major importance. It is the world’s largest aircraft, only weeks away from its maiden voyage. And it is called the Airlander 10.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. And what’s in a name? Airlander, Zoolander,…

I watched Zoolander 1. I will not, unless under duress, watch Zoolander 2. But that’s me.


Because of the way Malaysia was portrayed in Zoolander 1, the movie has never been shown there. And because of bilateral sensitivities and excessive drug use, the 2001 movie was only made available in Singapore in 2006, rated R. Malaysia was renamed Micronesia, a funny twist for those who have seen the movie. A censor with a sense of humour….

Censors and censorship. Bleep. Political, military, absolute, totalitarian. Bleep. Childish? Bleep. A lack of self-deprecation? Bleep. The idea we need to protect ourselves from … ourselves. Bleep. Regulatory. Bleep. Commercial. Bleep.

Censorship, copyright, free speech, local and historical sensitivities, art, literature, politics, the law. It is a difficult and for many on this earth dangerous debate. So there is worse than not being able to see Ben and Owen’s walk-off capers.

Like many I have been bypassing Netflix’s geographical restrictions for a while now. I pay for Netflix in my local market but use a VPN to access Netflix content from a wide range of different countries. I pay Netflix, I pay for the VPN access, I do not download illegal content. Still, I am a pirate. I violate licencing laws.

Netflix has recently decided it wants to show its content partners it is cracking down on VPN use. Consequently, many ‘pirates’ like me have found themselves, staring at a black screen instead of indulging in a night with Francis Underwood. Where I live, Francis works for a telecommunications company which spoon feeds its customers its goodies rather than allow them their binge. And all that for a fee of course.


Petty censorship? The power of a fragmented copyright system? Darewesayit? Monopoly? Not to mention globalization, free movement of goods and people, the opening of borders, the dream of unlimited access …

Many of those, dubbed pirates, might soon resort to illegally downloading. And that’s the rub. Even if it is not legal, people want it and people will get it. And that is true for a lot of things. TV is hardly a player….

And the Airlander 10 in all this? It has its possibilities. Humanitarian relief, aircraft carrier, drone carrier, the next sleeper service. Travel at slow speed, with ample time to watch your favourite show. Censorship, pardon the pun, up in the air.