Monday, October 27, 2008

4 in a row

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Dark o'clock

The morning news crews are doing interviews with us at the field. The ship is lit up with spotlights and hangar 2 is in the background. Quite a sight. We're home!

3 hours sleep but never been so alive.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Almost home!

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Hello San Francisco

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T minus 10

Bridge in sight

We have a biplane And dc3 escort courtesy Hiller Aviation museum

Thanks Steve and willy!

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hanging out over pacifica waiting for our high noon entrance

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Devil's slide tunnel project

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Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay

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Hi Ruth!

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Hundreds of seals

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Lumber mill

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The coast north of Santa Cruz.

We have seen whales, dolphins and seals this morning.

We'll have to consider adding some coastal sea life and whale watching flights this year!

Pumpkin patch

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Here we go!

9:20 departure

High noon eta for golden gate bridge

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Good morning to the ship

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Headed for airport

Kate piloting the rental car

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Day Seven. T minus one day

Wow. They made Salinas this evening. The trucks almost didn't. More red tape and paperwork. I said in the very first blog post that 'we'd be the scissors and we'd cut through the red tape and say Luftschiff Hoch'. I smile when I write that. I think I knew we would find a way to do it, and now its almost here, well, I'm not quite sure what I feel. Slightly giddy, but that might be lack of sleep over the past couple of weeks. Almost too excited to sleep, like I used to feel before a big exam, or, when I was little, the night before Christmas. I feel on the edge of tears, but I can't tell if its exhaustion, frustration at the amount still left to do before I can hit the sack tonight, or simply pure joy. I think tomorrow it will be joy.

Tomorrow I have to get up early and grab transportation to Salinas (thanks Mosaic!) so that I can join the flight in. This is my treat, my few hours of peace and quiet and solitude with my nearest and dearest and just a few team members as we bring our ship to its new, and hopefully welcoming, home.

I've missed Brian (he is my husband after all!) and our contact over the last two weeks has been late night phone calls analyzing challenges there and in the office. Did I tell you we've been moving offices too and dealing with moving phones, IT etc? There are some stories and heroes there that I need to acknowledge in posts sometime soon.

It's been very hard to see the team on the road, being such total stars, problem solving and making it happen and not be with them to share the pain and triumphs. But we've had more than our fair share of it back at base too, and the spirit and endless hours put in there too has been awesome. Tomorrow will be the first time that all the Airship Ventures team are together in one place - pilots, ground crew, engineers, passenger handling, marketing, sales, administration, finance, facilities, operations etc. And that's going to feel really really great.

Ok, time to go and dig out the waterproof mascara for tomorrow...

Guten abend Salinas

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Approaching Monterey Bay

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Santa Maria

Passing Santa Maria airport

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Coming up the coast now 1 hour north of Santa Barbara

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Queen Mary

We are considering spending a week down here in February. I can say
the sights of the coast and city are amazing.

To indicate interest in this location, please use the form at the
'other locations' tab at the tours section of our web site.

Heading out to sea

A great day to go to the beach.

Hello Mickey!

Disneyland and California Adventure off in the distance.

Salinas Bound - 9:49am Departure

Preparing for departure

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Almost there

Thought this was an interesting shot showing the journey so far. Currently about 1,400 miles traveled. Tomorrow, weather permitting, San Bernardino to Salinas. Then an early night. The airship has a big day on Saturday! (as always, weather permitting).

5:47pm Arrival

San Bernardino

We'll be down shortly. What an amazing day.

We're through!

We're out the other side. Had a 15 knot tail wind. Literaly pushed. I
don't think we could have done it at a better time.

A helping hand

The airship has a 15knot tail wind right now. Really lucky. They're being pushed through the Banning Pass. Yeah!

Wind farm in a windy pass

Banning Pass

Ahead lies Banning Pass.

We're going for it!

Golf anyone?

Entering Palm Springs

Passing Salton Sea

After a few hours of desert, we pass Salton Sea. We're about 30 miles
from palm Springs, but the conditions are favorable for us to make a
run through the Banning Pass today! If so, we'll overnight at San

Blythe Airport

Fruit or Veg to declare?

Passing the California border inspection station

Got milk?


Thousands of cows below us.

California, here we come!

CNS is back from their fligjt.

John had the distinction of being the first passenger in the US.

9:00am departure

We're on our way to Palm Springs, California.


FAA departure 7:45am


John Blackstone and his crew from CBS are here to shoot some video and
interview members of the team. Matt will be getting some air to air
from his private plane. Should be some wonderful footage today.

FAA flight

Another beautiful morning at the field. The FAA prepared for one more
flight. We have a weather window such that if we leave by 9, we can
reach California today. Fingers crossed, we work towards that goal.

The ship poses as well

The same shot, a little further out.

We wanted to show off all the Ford trucks (product placement!) as well as the ship.

Team Shot

Here is a great shot of the team from Monday morning. The red shirts are the official uniforms for Airship Ventures Ground Crew. The blue shirts are the special "AV Zeppelin (minus led) 2008 World Tour" shirt that our web team came up with.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day Five. Riding the roller coaster

At 5am this morning, the team in Tucson were looking at the weather forecast and it wasn't good at all for flying over the pass into CA. The message went out to the Moffett team - Saturday is very unlikely, probable arrival in the Bay is Monday. I woke to the news at 7am and felt like putting a shot of something 'medicinal' into my morning tea. This would mean a large number of plans to be unmade and new strategies done. But hey, that's airships.

Slowly the news got around the team and the deflation was palpable when I got into our 'camp' in building 20 (we're camped out on folding tables while the offices are being done). I composed the 'stiff upper lip and all that' message, knowing that everyone was feeling as down as I was. And we all pulled together, started to get things rescheduled and looked on the bright side. Hey, we get our weekend back! NASA were quietly relieved, no major potential showing of public on Saturday for them to figure out how to handle. 

I was picking up Brian's car at SFO tonight as he'd left it there when he headed out to Beaumont and if it remained much longer, I'd have to sell it to pay the parking fee. I got a text message. It said "We fly to Palm Springs tomorrow. Woot!!. See email".  I quickly did the double take in my head. But that was the original schedule. We always planned at least one day in Tucson with the FAA. But that would mean.....  we might make it in on Saturday!

It's a good job that cars are private and people couldn't hear me alternately laughing and cursing as I made my way back home. Well, it could all still change tomorrow.

Riding the airship roller coaster. And I know it isn't even remotely over yet. 

(the tracking shows the short flights done by the FAA this morning for an hour or so before the winds really got high.)

P.S If you believe in such things, I was once told that sometimes you have to truly give something up to get it back. Well, we all gave up on our cherished weekend arrival. Maybe we're going to get it back....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day Four

The convoy is evaluating the weather on whether to to stop for at least a day here in Tucson to do some check flights with the FAA. There were a lot of thermals today, so if there is no wind tomorrow, then the team will probably stay in Tucson and get the remaining paperwork stuff done. If there are winds, then they'll pack up and head onwards while the weather is good and then we'll have to work with the FAA at Palm Springs! There's no such thing as a defined schedule with an airship...

Hello Tucson

2:43pm arrival after a spectacular flight.

We even got feedback at our sightings blog from the control tower at
the boneyard!

Breathtaking Airplane Boneyard

I'm speechless.

We just flew over 'the boneyard'

Old planes as far as the eye could see.

I looked for the old naval blimp gondola stored there, but didn't see
it. Maybe I'll spot it later when I review the pics.

Outskirts of Tucson

Weighty Moment

The ground crew passed the Arizona weighing station about an hour ago.