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Jason Rantz

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Seattle company wants to help with border patrol

Illustration of an Egan Airships Plimp Model A3. (Courtesy of James Egan)

Maybe we don’t need a border wall, maybe we just need a fleet of airships.

That’s the argument of two Seattle brothers, James and Joel Egan. They’re the co-founders of Plimp, a company that manufacturers an aircraft that would best described as a cross between a drone and a blimp.

“Four years ago, recognizing that the technology had improved to the point where we could actually build something like this, we channeled energies into understanding what it would mean to merge a plane with a blimp,” James Egan told 77o KTTH’s Jason Rantz. “Carbon composite technology on the Boeing plane, the self-driving car; these are the emerging technologies that enabled us to build a Plimp aircraft.”

The Egan brothers propose several possible uses for their Plimp vehicles, but one of them is border security.

“It’s not a hostile vehicle,” Egan said, “rather it films them, it shines a light on them in the middle of the night, it tells them in Spanish to go back.”

Most Plimps run somewhere in the six-figure price range, depending on the size. Egan said that’s still way cheaper than a border wall, and a fleet of Plimps wouldn’t take years to build.

“They can film the whole border,” Egan said. “This can fly along the whole border and film it, and then film it a week later and see if there are any changes. You can run this through a computer program so you can see if there’s suddenly a truck, or a ladder, tents that weren’t there before, or something.”

Plimp appeal

The appeal of Plimps as opposed to regular drones is there’s a much lower risk they’ll fall out of the sky. Even if someone punctures a Plimp by shooting it, it would still just slowly descend to the ground.

“Your camera is on a plummet-proof vehicle,” Egan said. “Plummet-proof meaning, provided that envelope, that’s the top side of the aircraft, doesn’t rupture and you don’t lose your fireproof helium, then you will always move slowly.”

Down the road, the Egan brothers hope to release Plimp’s that can carry people. He says people don’t realize how comfortable blimp rides are.

“The experience is so phenomenal,” Egan said. “You feel like a Greek god. You’re just carried into the sky, like a baby.”

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