I have heard that some balloons have been made with wings, angled such that they generate some forward thrust during the ascent. Balloons can also theoretically generate thrust with wings during a descent.

This made me curious about how much thrust one might produce. I suspect the drag of the balloon will ensure it would not be a useful amount.

In general, I would think of a 10m diameter balloon, using hydrogen, or hot-air if your prefer. I think a common ascent rate is 5m/s, so if you could get as much as a 1:1 glide ratio, that'd be 5m/s of forward velocity.

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    $\begingroup$ This concept is used very successfully in autonomous underwater gliders. As you say, the low density of air requires much larger volumes wich causes excessive drag. I am not aware of a successful application in air. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2022 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ Variable buoyancy propulsion for UAV is also researched. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Sep 4, 2022 at 15:52


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