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Author Topic: First U.S. zeppelin since the Hindenburg era takes flight  (Read 1103 times)

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Offline The OverlordTopic starter

First U.S. zeppelin since the Hindenburg era takes flight
« on: October 28, 2008, 03:57:24 PM »


Airships...not just for Final Fantasy fans anymore.  :)


May I start out by saying that this is the coolest shit I've seen in some time? I would absolutely love to ride in a zeppelin.  8)


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/28/MN8K13P1J4.DTL&nopu=1


Quote
Flying in the world's largest airship is a very quiet, smooth-as-silk experience. The six-cylinder aircraft engines hum unobtrusively, allowing the ship's 12 passengers to chat easily among themselves and the crew in the narrow gondola. Grand vistas can be seen through large windows, some of which can be opened.

That was the view on Monday from Moffett Field, where a new company called Airship Ventures cranked up its marketing machine to introduce zeppelin rides in the United States after a 71-year hiatus brought on by the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, the onset of World War II and the eclipse of ocean liner-in-the-sky airships by airplanes.

Airship Ventures takes off on Friday with four flights from the Mountain View airfield. It's not for everyone: A one-hour flight from either Moffett or Oakland International Airport is $495 per person, and two hours is $950. The company will start using Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport next month, where a one-hour Wine Country ticket is $525 and two hours $975.

It is, however, a terrific ride. For 30 minutes, a group of media members cruised at 1,350 feet and 34 knots with Katharine Board - the only female zeppelin pilot in the world - at the controls.

The zeppelin lands on a dime, and the lift comes from lighter-than-air helium. This is no blimp. Zeppelins have a light, rigid metal and carbon fiber framework that is covered with a synthetic canvas hull - just waiting to be adorned with your company logo for yet another fee. Blimps do not have internal rigid frames.

Alas, with the gloomy haze shrouding the Bay Area and visibility of no more than 2 1/2 miles, passengers on the flight had to use their imaginations about the picturesque landmarks and vistas that might have been seen through the windows.

As it was, the 246-foot airship hovered and passed over Moffett Field, offering scenes of FEMA trailers and airplane hangars and a great view of the future offices of Airship Ventures, the Silicon Valley startup that had the audacious idea of leasing one of the three zeppelins in the world, hauling it by ship from Hamburg, Germany, to Beaumont, Texas, and then last week flying it in a six-stop route to its new home at Moffett.

The zeppelin took several passes over the new offices. They were the bachelor officers' quarters of the former Moffett Naval Air Station, complete with swimming pool and bar, now being remodeled.

The idea to lease the airship, manufactured in Germany by Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH, a modern-day offshoot of the historic company that manufactured the original zeppelins, came to Brian Hall, the founder and CEO of Mark/Space, a software company, and his wife Alexandra Hall, the former executive director and CEO of the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland.

They knew that the manufacturer's zeppelin sightseeing operation near Lake Constance, at the borders of Switzerland, Austria and Germany, was successful and that it could be that and more in the Bay Area, which has good weather over 10 to 11 months, compared with seven in Germany, and a desirable demographic.

The German operation is so successful, said Michael Schieschke, chief operating officer of Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, who was aboard Monday, that the company has a backlog of 10,000 tickets. He thinks the business model will thrive here.

"You have magnificent, ever-changing scenery, and as I flew here I thought, if it can't be done here, I don't know where," he said.

True, if the view includes whales, dolphins, coast, Wine Country and more - something more than the NASA Ames Research Center.

Monday's weather and a tanking economy notwithstanding, it is full-speed ahead for Airship Ventures.

'This is a luxury experience," Hall said aboard the third flight of the day Monday. "It's intended to either be a treat for yourself or loved one. We have companies booking it for their top-selling people, people celebrating wedding anniversaries and birthdays."

One of the Halls' investors, Esther Dyson, said she is so impressed with the plan that she is "about to put in a bit more money to help us through the turbulence."

The first charter customer, on Halloween, is a band called Abney Park, which performs in a genre called steampunk - a meld of fantasy and speculative fiction, or what Hall said is something like "Jules Verne meets the Victorian Age."

The day works for Abney Park, because the band will be in San Jose for a steampunk convention. One of its song's is titled "Airship Pirate," which did give Hall some pause.

"We will have to give them the extra frisking so they don't try to commandeer our ship," said Hall.

Hopefully, it will be clear skies for Abney Park, whose members will be coming in costume. The complete, 12-seat gondola for a one-hour flight out of Moffett or Oakland rents for $5,750. It's $6,100 in Sonoma.




Zeppelin rides
Not a blimp: A zeppelin is a rigid airship developed in the late 1800s by German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. Characterized by a covered cylindrical frame supported by internal gas cells, it is different from the more common blimp, which does not have a rigid frame.

Tickets: A one-hour flight on Airship Ventures' zeppelin is priced at $495 per person; two hours is $950.

When and where:

Beginning Friday, Airship Ventures will operate at Moffett Field in Mountain View and Oakland International Airport.


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Re: First U.S. zeppelin since the Hindenburg era takes flight
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2008, 04:49:18 PM »
That's cool but impractical. I would love to take a girl on a date that would be awesome. Unfortunately the time of the Zeppelin ended with the Hindenburg, and they're so damn expensive whew. If only I had the money.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: First U.S. zeppelin since the Hindenburg era takes flight
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2008, 05:57:13 PM »


Actually the era of the airship is returning, and there's plenty of articles I read to reflect this. It wonít replace the airliner for transit, but itís going to find a place. For one thing, the old airships used hydrogen since itís lightest but Iím sure theyíve made considerable advances in designs and materials to help performance since these things float on helium nowÖfor one thing the article seems to indicate the new zeppelins are a lot more maneuverable.

Wind power is being looked at in a lot of ways now; I've seen design sketches for modern freighters and tankers that will supplement engine power with adjustable sail structure like older ships. Expect to see some interesting stuff in the coming years.

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Re: First U.S. zeppelin since the Hindenburg era takes flight
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2008, 06:07:30 PM »

Actually the era of the airship is returning, and there's plenty of articles I read to reflect this. It wonít replace the airliner for transit, but itís going to find a place. For one thing, the old airships used hydrogen since itís lightest but Iím sure theyíve made considerable advances in designs and materials to help performance since these things float on helium nowÖfor one thing the article seems to indicate the new zeppelins are a lot more maneuverable.

Wind power is being looked at in a lot of ways now; I've seen design sketches for modern freighters and tankers that will supplement engine power with adjustable sail structure like older ships. Expect to see some interesting stuff in the coming years.

I don't think so. Airships used to be the airliner. Now they're just luxuries. They're just not cost effective. They move slower and hold less. It would be fun as a fun thing but it's not going to really make a comeback. Remember before the Hindenburg, zeppelins were the mode of transportation. However, I think it's incredibly cool that they're coming back. If only in style and not function.   

Offline ryokothedemoness137

Re: First U.S. zeppelin since the Hindenburg era takes flight
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2008, 11:07:25 PM »
Not impractical.  Fuel usage in an aircraft that works on Bernoulli's principle grows cubically with weight.  Fuel usage on an airship is linear with weight.

The problem in the old days was the Germans had to use hydrogen, and the Americans with plenty of helium didn't realize you had to sail them, and did things like take them through squall-lines.

In terms of casualties per passenger miles flown, the German commercial airship program was safter than modern jet air travel.

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Re: First U.S. zeppelin since the Hindenburg era takes flight
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2008, 11:36:06 PM »

Actually the era of the airship is returning, and there's plenty of articles I read to reflect this. It wonít replace the airliner for transit, but itís going to find a place. For one thing, the old airships used hydrogen since itís lightest but Iím sure theyíve made considerable advances in designs and materials to help performance since these things float on helium nowÖfor one thing the article seems to indicate the new zeppelins are a lot more maneuverable.

Actually, from the documentaries that I've seen, the reason that the German zeppelins used hydrogen was because the only real source for helium at the time was the US, and as the relations got more tense, either they weren't willing to ask for it, or the US wasn't willing to provide it.

Quote
Wind power is being looked at in a lot of ways now; I've seen design sketches for modern freighters and tankers that will supplement engine power with adjustable sail structure like older ships. Expect to see some interesting stuff in the coming years.

That would actually look pretty cool.

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Re: First U.S. zeppelin since the Hindenburg era takes flight
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2008, 08:38:11 AM »
Actually, from the documentaries that I've seen, the reason that the German zeppelins used hydrogen was because the only real source for helium at the time was the US, and as the relations got more tense, either they weren't willing to ask for it, or the US wasn't willing to provide it.

That would actually look pretty cool.
True but Nazism was taking a strong hold in Germany, at the time. Most people think it was the aluminum paint on the Burg that went up first not the hydrogen. Like I said it's cool. However, it's still cheaper to take a plane if these prices are any indication. I love zeppelins.

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Re: First U.S. zeppelin since the Hindenburg era takes flight
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2008, 09:56:48 AM »
Actually, it was probably a combination of the aluminum/iron oxide paint and the hydrogen, the way I figure.  I saw an episode of Mythbusters devoted entirely to this theory.  The hydrogen alone went up pretty spectacularly, and the normally doped one burned well, (and the Mythbusters Overachiever's experiment using actual thermite went up in grand fashion) but I seem to remember that they didn't test doped fabric in the presence of hydrogen.

Offline Zakharra

Re: First U.S. zeppelin since the Hindenburg era takes flight
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2008, 08:53:23 AM »
 I can see zeppelins as a luxury craft, not as a cargo hauler. They don't carry enough nor are they fast enough. Over the seas, ships carry more and on land, trains carry more.

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Re: First U.S. zeppelin since the Hindenburg era takes flight
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2008, 09:17:58 AM »
It still makes my inner steampunk very happy.

Offline ryokothedemoness137

Re: First U.S. zeppelin since the Hindenburg era takes flight
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2008, 10:38:53 AM »
Actually, there are parts of the world--subsaharan Africa, Brazil, Siberia--where an airship would be an ideal cargo craft:  no need for roads or rails, and the fuel usage is comparable to surface craft rather than to Bernoulli-based aircraft.