So it's been known for awhile now that a blunt body passing through a plasma medium will experience reduced aerodynamic drag, and furthermore electrically active control surfaces can have an enhanced effect in plasma compared to conventional control surfaces, exerting greater control across the boundary layer. Well to me, among the oldest and bluntest aerial vehicles would be airships, like blimps and zeppelins. I'm imagining that plasma aerodynamics could benefit these old obsolete craft a lot, beyond just the benefits for futuristic high-mach designs such as hypersonic vehicles. Just as a thought exercise, I'm wondering if it would be possible to design a blimp or zeppelin that would be able to make use of plasma aerodynamics to achieve greater speed and performance. Suppose the skin of the blimp or zeppelin was made of some advanced materials, including perhaps a graphene-impregnated polymer with high conductivity. Since graphene is also highly impermeable to gas molecules, there could be an additional benefit of reducing loss of lifting gas from the envelope. Could it be possible to use a conductive skin to project an electric field around the airship, to ionize the airflow around it? Furthermore, what if our airship had a needle-nose or a leading telescoping probe extending far ahead of it, which would produce an arc-discharge at its tip to ionize the air in advance? I've also read that a counterflow plasma jet that is projected in the forward direction against the flow can also greatly increase the level of ionization in a flowstream. Could it be further possible to exploit the airship's large surface area to generate a magnetohydrodynamic flow around it for propulsion purposes? If our design was a zeppelin or some kind of hybrid semi-rigid hull, could we incorporate some kind of large magnetic coil shape into its superstructure which would create a propulsive flow? Would it be possible to use both electric and magnetic fields together, to create an enveloping propulsive flowstream with reduced friction and turbulence? One advantage of this could be quiet propulsion with low noise pollution. Another advantage would be the absence of moving parts, to avoid this as a failure point as well as the associated maintenance requirements. At the same time, such a propulsion mechanism could easily facilitate vectored thrust for improved stability and handling characteristics, which are particularly important near the ground. I'd read that lighter-than-air vehicles are being considered for revival, with companies like Aeros, SkyCat, and even Boeing and Lockheed-Martin having produced experimental prototypes for evaluation. They of course use conventional propellers for propulsion. http://mutateweb.com/archives/2008/05/12/hybrid-airships-being-tested-by-lockheed-martin-darpa/ [Broken] http://www.worldskycat.com/skycat/data.html http://www.worldskycat.com/skycat/features.html http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=awst&id=news/020606p2.xml [Broken] http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/AIRSHIP07088.xml&headline=Boeing,%20Skyhook%20Team%20On%20Heavy-Lift%20Airship&channel=comm [Broken] http://www.dynalifter.com/Dynaliftercom/Concept.htm http://www.aeroscraft.com/ Perhaps future exploration missions to Venus or even Mars could utilize such steerable craft for studying these planets and their atmosphere. In those cases, perhaps even a lifting gas such as hydrogen could be used. But even just here on Earth, could this concept be feasible? Where would the main technical problems and challenges be with it?