Thursday, June 21, 2007

Recruiting 'helium heads'

We're at flight school and listening to some fascinating presentations and discussions around the emerging fields of 'air taxis', very light jets, personal spaceflight, sport aviation etc. All these groups face regulatory hurdles as well as hurdles to reach market and attract investment. Heavy stuff. So we were pleased to be the 'lightweight' addition to the agenda!

Generally our ideas were well received, but we found a surprising level of negativity that relates to the perception (and in some cases, experience) that folks here have with blimps. As they generally haven't seen a Zeppelin NT, then they have no other reference. Perhaps this explains why many entrepreneurial airship ideas are struggling to find traction in the investment community - a perception of old technology, slow, unreliable etc. Something to think about in terms of marketing and education.

Fortunately we do have some advocates in the room. One of the attendees was recently in Friedrichshafen for a meeting with another aviation company based there. He said that he was traveling along when he looked up and saw the Zeppelin NT bank and turn and then start to land. He was astonished at the fact that it was so manueverable and commented to his companion that he'd never seen an airship do that. He came back to the USA and had made a note to himself that there absolutely should be one of these in Northern California.... we of course agree!

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