Airships on my Mind
by Heather Hiestand
Gadgets are a perpetually exciting part of writing steampunk and the airship is one of the most durable elements. Some authors have them drifting across the sky, providing a backup, some have characters travelling on them in casual fashion, and some of our characters have to get a bit more up close and personal with these lighter-than-air machines. There are as many variations to the airship as there are writers to imagine them.
Here is the first view of an airship in my novella, Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas:
Linet dashed back to the window. Yes, a rope ladder, just like the ones she’d climbed thousands of times to her father’s dirigible, the Christmas, dangled outside, a little lower now. Ladders had been the staircases of her life until she was seventeen, carrying her from earth to sky, larceny to freedom.
Who had found her? Her father had enemies, to be sure, but no enemy would be visiting her on Christmas Eve. No one from her old life had crossed her path in all this time. Perhaps her sister Terrwyn had finally reappeared?
She reached through the window and grabbed the ladder, then frowned. That knot with a gash on the left side looked familiar. One rung was painted red, the next, green. Her gaze rose, unbelieving.
The Christmas tossed gently, grandly, merrily, on the wind, the green and red-striped balloon over the deck radiating holiday cheer. She watched the propellers turn for a minute, dumbfounded.
When I wrote Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas, I didn’t have to know too much about airships, but as I write the sequel, Captain Fenna’s Dirigible Valentine, I’m having to understand them a bit more. Lots of sky battles in the new story! I’m far from an expert, but I’m making use of some excellent websites.
Here is my list:
To start, Wikipedia always has great information. http://www.wikipedia.org. Just search on whatever term you are wondering about, like dirigible or zeppelin.
I use Mapquest to figure out travel routes for my airships. http://www.mapquest.com
If you need to understand the basic parts of a dirigible, here is a good site: http://history.howstuffworks.com/world-war-i/dirigible1.htm
Fantastic real world information: http://www.airships.net/
Need some help with air acrobatics? http://www.greenharbor.com/fffolder/questions.html#anchor1234506
I use actual ships to figure out layout and size of the ship part of my flying contraptions. Sales sites for ships, versus aircraft, are very handy for that. One site I use, that has slideshows of actual boats, is: http://www.boatquest.com.
This is a discussion on Steampunk Empire about building steampunk airships and models: http://www.thesteampunkempire.com/forum/topics/building-an-actual-airship?xg_source=activity&id=2442691%3ATopic%3A569797&page=2
~ Heather Hiestand
Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas links: