American Skyship Industries

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File:RS.1 Logging.png
The final version of the artist's rendering.

American Skyship Industries, Inc. was established as the U.S. manufacturing arm of Wren Skyships Ltd. of the Isle of Man, ostensibly for the production of Metal-clad airships. No airship, or even a manufacturing facility, was ever built.

Formation

American Skyship Industries, Inc, was founded by Russell H. Scoville, II, and Major Malcolm W. Wren RE[1]. in 1981.[2] Wren had formed Wren Skyships as a "breakaway" of the rigid airship design division from Airship Industries.[3] Airship Industries had itself been a merger of Wren's Thermoskyships company and Airship Developments Ltd (a reincarnation of Aerospace Developments after the loss of the AD 500 had caused financial collapse).[4]

Economic incentives

Template:Seealso The City of Youngstown sold Lansdowne Airport to American Skyship Industries, Inc. for US$1 - the sale being contingent on construction of manufacturing facilities on the site. The sale carried with it historical overtones, as the airport was named after the noted American Navy rigid airship pioneer Lt. Cdr. Zachary Lansdowne. The sale of Lansdowne airport was met with some local opposition, concerns ranging from airship safety to a large hangar obstructing the view or being an eyesore in general. (Despite the project being defunct since 1985, the sale of the airport remains controversial to this day.[5])

Youngstown, Ohio, in its heyday, had claimed to be the fourth largest steel producing city in the US. By the late 1970s, business had collapsed. The large industrial base lay dormant, and its skilled workforce was at best underemployed.[6]

Proposed facilities

File:ASII Manufacturing Plant - Phase 1.png
Phase 1 of ASII's proposed manufacturing plant

The manufacturing facility was designed to accommodate walk-through tours of the production process. Airship hangars are, of necessity, very large clear-span buildings. In order to reduce construction costs, and to minimize visual obstruction, it was proposed to utilize an existing ravine at the south end of the property. Civil engineers from Butler Buildings, advised ASII that reduced energy usage and reduced wind loads would minimize construction costs. Supposed frequent near-zero winds in line with the airfield's runway were to facilitate relatively infrequent launches from the product line.[7]

The initial artist's rendering of Lansdowne Airport showed an "Active Mooring Circle" proposed by Wren Skyships' engineer Patrick W. C. Monk, consisting of mooring towers on powered bases diametrically disposed on a circular track attached to the nose and tail of the vehicle. This concept was quickly discarded in favour of the more traditional mooring mast attached to the airship's nose, with a circular track disposed beneath and towards the aft of the airship's gondola.

Devolution of corporate power

The project was subject to changes in corporate leadership.

By the summer of 1983, efforts to obtain federal and state funding had stalled. In June of that year, federal officials informed American Skyship Industries Inc. that additional proof of private financing was required before $4.2 million in federal loans and grants could be released.[8] Internal disagreements and failure to raise the required private financing lead to Scoville's departure from the company he had co-founded.

After the departure of Scoville, the company was briefly managed by Michael McL. Foster-Turner.[9]

Mothballing and dissolution

The company's offices - on the 5th floor of City Centre One - were shuttered in the fall of 1984.

References