July, 2007

Me, I’m putting my chips on a slightly more down-to-earth creative venture. Recently a friend of mine introduced me to the commissioner of the World Air League, who is developing the World Sky Race, a historic global race for lighter-than-air skyships, blimps, and zeppelins.

I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t the Hindenburg disaster of 1937 effectively terminate travel by zeppelin? Yes and no. Yes, there have been no intercontinental lighter-than-air flights in almost 70 years. But no, if Texan Don Hartsell has his way, we may be about to witness the first organized international skyship race. If Hartsell is successful in attracting corporations and countries as sponsors, this race will be the first full global circumnavigation by lighter-than-air skyships. What Hartsell is proposing is nothing short of “the largest man-made event in the history of the human race, to be witnessed and seen by the greatest number of live spectators ever.” P. T. Barnum may have met his match.

Imagine a squadron of skyships soaring over the Statue of Liberty, cruising past Big Ben, shadowing the Eiffel Tower and the Roman Coliseum, hovering over the Great Pyramids and the Taj Mahal, nodding to the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, before landing on the Prime Meridian, the very spot where all of the time on Earth is synchronized. My point is this: While we’re all waiting around for spaceports to take the world by storm, one Texan might just steal a little bit of their thunder with his World Sky Race. I have no doubt that spaceports will be the wave of the future, possibly even the biggest growth industry since biotech. But I am reminded of the sobering words of physicist Niels Bohr: “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

My future is clear. I’ve been doing this creative thing for 36 years now, and I plan on doing it a while longer. With any luck, I’ll witness the first World Sky Race next year. In the meantime, I plan to write a few more of these Creatively Speaking columns. Onward and upward!

Tim McClure, Co-Founder, GSD&M

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