Whatever you do, don’t call it a blimp. It’s a zeppelin, and today I got to ride in one. Yes, a zeppelin, like the Hindenburg, but no crashing and burning on my journey.
The zeppelin belonging to the company Airship Ventures arrived in the Bay Area this week and will soon be offering one and two hour tourist flights. They are hoping that people will be lining up to pay $495 an hour to ride the big helium-filled airship. Cool idea, but have they been tuned into the financial news lately? It could be a real tough sell.
Today is media day and Airship Ventures is allowing members of the press to embark on a 20 minute flight around the airstrip at Moffett Field. After a brief safety meeting that was similar to what you get on a commercial flight, we were on our way to the tarmac.
The thing is massive, the biggest zeppelin in the world as a matter of fact. We were standing on the tarmac when it came in for a landing right over our heads. It’s really quiet, not like a helicopter. The cabin, I guess that’s what it is called, has huge panoramic windows and seats 15 passengers. When you board the thing it’s like getting onto a boat in rough seas. The wind pushes it around and you have to anticipate that or you might fall flat on your face. That usually happens to me, but not this time.
Once in my seat, I felt like I was in a fish tank. The windows are huge. You have really great unobstructed views. When we were all in our seats and belted in, we lifted off. Our two pilots, one who is the only female zeppelin pilot in the world and the other a German named Fritz, hit buttons and pulled levers as we quickly gained altitude. The plan was to do a few loops around the airfield and possibly a little further. This plan was thwarted when a local TV reporter wanted to do some stupid gimmicky in-flight live interview with the CEO that required us to be close to his live truck so he could transmit the signal. We ended up hovering for about 20 minutes just above our takeoff point. Thanks a lot. None of the other 13 people wanted to fly around. No, really. It’s all about you.
After the talking head got his interview out of the way we managed to get about 10 minutes of actual flying time. The thing is smooth and the views are incredible. I’m not sure that I would shell out the serious coin that they are asking for these flights, so I’m glad I got to ride along for free. I bet it would be really nice to fly over the city at night.
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