Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why the British don't like Zeppelins

[Tongue in Cheek posting] Our eagle eyed correspondent, Peter, residing in the UK, sent me another piece from a British Newspaper, passing comment on a documentary about the Hindenburg with the statement that the disaster '..put paid to airship travel forever...". Not true of course. Peter, a known wit, followed it up with a jotting which I share for your amusement.

"There is undoubtedly a deep prejudice against (and fear of?) airships in the U.K., which underlay David Chater's relief at being able to write off airships with the expiry of the Hindenburg. Reasons?
1 They are slow (and quiet) (and, thereby, threatening).

2 They are big (and they 'loom') (and are, thereby, threatening).
3 They tend to explode (we don't understand the hydrogen/helium shift, yet).
4 They were used by the Germans in the War.

5 We don't like objects with names beginning with the letter Z.

6 We didn't invent them.

7 People can see your washing {laundry} in your back gardens, from them.*

8 We have weather. (Foreigners don't.) Airships can't work in our kind of weather.

9 We distrust all politicians ( air...balloons...airships).
10 They are fun. We don't do fun. (Except when we go on holiday)

*British people mostly hang laundry outside to dry, except when it rains and then they will use racks inside the house, or possibly even a 'tumble drier'. Nosy people enjoy passing comment on the cleanliness and content of other peoples washing lines. In the USA there are places where you are not allowed to hang out your washing to dry - I used to live in such a place. Discriminates against my British culture I'd say... .

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Happy 10th for D-LZFN (Heute ha-ha-habe ich Geburtstag)

Heute ha ha habe ich Geburtstag...

Today marks the 10th anniversay of the maiden flight of Zeppelin NT07 Werknummer 01, (our ship is number 4 in the series production of this model). This ship, christened the "Friedrichshafen" after her birthplace, was piloted on that day by our very own Scott Danneker before a crowd of thousands, including the media and honored veterans of the era of the silver Zeppelins.

It was a a defining moment in a project dating back to 1993, when Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik was founded with the goal of once again building airships in Friedrichshafen.

Since that time, over 65,000 passengers have been carried in comfort and safety, 2 additional ships were built, another is under construction, and Zeppelins now operate on 3 continents (soon to be 4!).

Happy Anniversary!

(It also happens to be my birthday, but I'm older than 10!)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Go fly the "Lindenberg"

Second Life, the online virtual community of more than 9 million people, gives users the opportunity to spend their Linden dollars on airships. While the Zeppelin NT isn't there (yet), an enterprising group called Second Skies have a wide range of airships for your perusal, all at a bargain 700 Linden dollars ($3 at average exchange rates between the Linden and USD).

If you're feeling wealthy, you can also acquire the "Lindenburg". The clever name, however, is about all it shares in common with its more famous namesake. It boasts multiple decks, 2 story condos and all modern amenities for a mere $64 USD. I suspect that the online version doesn't have to worry about payload and lift...

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I tried to find a word that meant surfing the shores of the internet via Google and picking on interesting snippets that were washed up, but I failed. So net-combing (instead of beach combing) it is.

Anyway, while netcombing to see how far and wide the latest stories about us had propagated, I found an article in a travel ezine and the picture stopped me in my tracks. Just exactly what IS this? A toy (the red propeller blades would hint at that)? Someone's first play with a digital rendering program?

And where is it exactly? Mars in the future with water? The mind boggles. I can't understand why they don't use a proper picture of a Zeppelin. It's not like you can't easily get one.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hangars in the News

I've previously blogged about the issues that many communities face in trying to figure out what to do with the large airship hangars in their midst. The Save Hangar One folks are out gathering for a new petition in advance of the new report on what to do with it. It will be interesting to hear the comments at the Restoration Advisory Board meeting on Thursday. The comments are normally well covered at the web page which is how we tend to keep up to date, but perhaps we will pop along this time.

Interest in Hangar One resulting in us becoming a story for the local rags again this weekend with speculation about where we might be based, despite us not issuing any press releases. But the fact that people want to know about us, and that there were positive comments made, is rather gratifying. Of course, it always comes with challenges, as you can't fact check what reporters do, so you're at the mercy of their research skills. But the stories resulted in some fun comments regarding the name of the ship. Something for another blog entry I think.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Waiting for a ride.

Thought you'd like to see this wonderful picture sent to us by Scott D, Zeppelin pilot and a member of our valuable consultant team. He's flying in Botswana right now with D-LZFN "Friedrichshafen", the NT prototype.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Zeppelin Museum Highlights

No visit to Friedrichshafen would be complete without a visit to the Zeppelin Museum. I went to visit with both my former professional hat of museum director and my new hat of Zeppelin enthusiast firmly on my head. It is overall a fascinating place.

The most impressive exhibit is the partial Hindenburg replica, complete with some bedrooms, a lounge and the writing room. These are very faithful indeed to the original and give some sense of the grandeur of travel at this time in history. While it could be enhanced by moving videos outside the windows, and some sound, it was still an enjoyable experience.

It was easy to spend a lot of time with the engines and structures exhibits. To see the engine gondola from Graf Zeppelin was quite incredible. I had read the excellent book by Eugen Bentele, "The Story of a Zeppelin Mechanic" as well as Paul Lagasse's 'Seeing Through Clouds' and this exhibit really made those experiences real for me.

I was also intruigued by the two galleries showcasing artifacts from the first world war Zeppelins as well as the time just before the second world war. Unfortunately the items are in glass cases, with back lit displays behind them presumably to encourage compliance with the 'no photos' logos on the entrances to these two rooms. However, it was possible with some patience to try some longer exposures and I was able to capture this piece of a war Zeppelin sold to finance the war effort, and these dominoes from the Hindenburg. Can you spot the purple Zeppelins?

The traveling exhibit gallery currently features the Zeppelin NT. Also worth a peek to get the history on the new Zeppelins.

The visit ended too quickly. When I think back, there aren't as many artifacts as one would expect, perhaps symptomatic of the fact that the original Zeppelin hangars and Zeppelins were dismantled and mostly recycled. However it was unusual for there not to be originals of the wonderful advertising posters, and more items such as plates and silverware, philately, brochures etc.

Is that a Zeppelin in your pocket..?

No comment.

The web address you can see is for the Zeppelin Shop in Friedrichshafen where you can get Zeppelin stuff, but not pin up girls.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Up Ship (2)

The highlight of my trip to Zeppelin was of course, to take a ride in the airship. It is an amazing experience and actually quite difficult to describe. The take off was a non event, we were airborne before I knew it. The gondola is very quiet and peaceful, with wonderful views from all windows and the ability to open windows to be able to take pictures without reflections. As it was such a perfect flying day, Pilot Hans Paul Stroehle allowed both of us to take a turn in the right seat and generously answered all of our questions about flying Zeppelins. Thanks HP! (He also takes great pictures which you can find here)

The views of the vast amount of agriculture in this lovely part of the world, the flower island of Mainau and the lake served to tantalize us when we considered what incredible views of the San Francisco Bay Area, wine country etc we would be able to get. Patience, patience...

Number Four

As you know, Airship Ventures has optioned Zeppelin NT07 serial number 4. It was very cool to see her being assembled in the hangar. As the structure is black carbon fiber, the hangar is very large and also full of structural members, it was very hard to get a reasonable picture of the progress. But just about all the hull structural members are up, along with the engine beam, fin and rudder supports etc.

In addition, the carbon fiber gondola is also taking shape, with the cockpit being installed.

It's difficult to get a feel for the scale of the airship until you get close to one. Here's Brian with Robert, the Chief Engineer at Zeppelin, under number 3.

Flight Preparations

We took many photos on our trip to Zeppelin (as you can imagine). The ship, devoid of most graphics, was taken out of the hangar on a perfect sunny day. It had been stormy the day before and the ship had been put in the hangar that afternoon. During the night, Josef from Airborne Grafix had been removing the Mainau decals in preparation for the application of the new EADS Space logos.

After the first flight, the ground crew stand waiting for the ship to land. Note the limp windsock which dropped just as I took this picture. There actually were a few knot winds on that day.

I also like this picture of the ground crew member on the rope, singular. Nice to contrast this to the Zeppelins of old, or indeed modern blimps that need a few more pairs of hands than this.