December 2, 2008

San Fran Zeppelin

We’ve often thought our Cessna 172 is the perfect machine for scenic flights, but how about a zeppelin?

Airship Ventures is now offering the first zeppelin flights in North America since 1937. This is a genuine zeppelin from the German Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik company, an offshoot of the original 20th century zeppelin manufacturers. Specifically, the modern version is a Zeppelin NT for New Technology, and it’s filled with helium, not that scary hydrogen stuff.

A one-hour flight around the San Francisco Bay area is $495 per person, or $5750 if you want to rent all 12 seats in the gondola.

Airship Ventures’ website is packed with info and a history of how this unique service evolved…and don’t miss the videos.

It’s hard to imagine the original Zeppelins sailing across the skies in the 1930’s. They were larger than any flying machine that anyone alive has ever witnessed. This website shows the comparative lengths of a modern Boeing 747 (231 feet) and the Hindenburg (804 feet). The Hindenburg was over three times longer than a Boeing 747! Airship Ventures’ Zeppelin NT is 246 feet long.

At the time of the Hindenburg disaster, zeppelins had a far better safety record than airplanes. Indeed, zeppelins far surpassed airplanes of the 1930’s in terms of lifting power, range, endurance and speed. But the newsreel images of the Hindenburg engulfed in flames spelled the end of the zeppelin dynasty. It is one of the most recognized film clips in history. One can wonder if the zeppelins would have endured if the Hindenburg accident hadn’t been caught on film.

Here’s an account of the first media flight with Airship Ventures.

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