Much as I like Led Zeppelin, it’s not the seventies-era heavy metal band I’m referring to here. No, I’m talking about the real thing, Airship Ventures’ new San Francisco-based Zeppelin NT.
The 246-foot-long airship—which just started offering “flight-seeing” tours of the Bay Area and California wine country this week—was built in Germany (where else?) and is one of only three zeppelins flying worldwide. Unlike blimps, these zeppelins use a lightweight internal aluminum and carbon-fiber framework to support the three 200-horsepower Lycoming engines and the 35-foot-long 12-passenger gondola. Lift comes from an envelope filled with enough non-flammable helium to make the entire city of San Francisco talk in a funny cartoon-character voice for weeks.
I was lucky enough to schmooze my way onto the Saturn blimp a few years ago, and though I found it to be a really cool experience, I’ve never written about blimp flights because they simply weren’t available to the general public. Which is why I’m so excited about this new zeppelin operation, because it offers a chance for anyone to experience this uniquely tranquil and scenic form of powered flight.
So I’m now working on getting a flight aboard this new zeppelin—the first to fly over American soil for more than 70 years—and will bring you the full story of what promises to be a truly extraordinary experience on our Xperiences page ASAP. Till then, we’ll both have to be content with some of the cool photos courtesy of the Airship Ventures blog.