Monday, June 30, 2008

Rules of the Air

According to the rights of way of the air, balloons have the first right of way, followed by gliders and then airships. But what happens when two airships are in the sky together?

NT003 appears to cross the path of NT004 although as they are at different altitudes, there's no arguing over who has priority.

Shadow on the Clouds

We have lots of photos of the Zeppelin shadow in interesting situations. Its rare though to get one on top of the clouds because for sightseeing, you usually fly under the clouds!

During our performance flight testing we had to take the airship up to pressure height rapidly and in doing so, we went through a patchy cloud layer where I was able to take this picture.

UPDATE. I found this second picture sent to my cell phone a while back by Scott, our Chief Pilot, when he was transiting with a SkyShip. Its cool to see the different shape!

Err, Where are we exactly?

June 30 was the day that Airship Ventures did the flight performance testing of NT004. All systems from avionics to airship performance at specific altitudes, speeds etc was checked against the data sheets and the airship performed according to spec. However according to the GPS system, at the time this picture was taken, we had clearly dropped into a different universe. (it says 'Invalid External Position Data)

(they were actually doing some tests on the system at the time)

Three Heads are better than One

Putting Zeppelin NT004 through her paces for a full performance check out is Zeppelin Chief Pilot, Fritz Gunther (L). Tracking all the figures in the right seat is Airship Ventures Chief Pilot, Scott Danneker. In the middle, keeping an eye on all the technical aspects is Airship Ventures Technical Manager/Inspector, Matt Kilkerr. Under their watchful eye over almost three hours, the airship was heavily tested and passed with flying colors. A magnificent vehicle.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Camp QSL

The Zeppelin Hangar is next to the Friedrichshafen Messe, or conference halls. Over the past few days, a massive Ham Radio convention has been going on. Our hotel has been full of people who come to breakfast wearing badges with their call sign instead of their names (and some who even had T Shirts and other clothing embroidered with it so that there could be no mistake!). By today, the convention was over and the several fields of tents and RV’s that had been erected, along with the forest of antennae, had started to disappear. Just as well, NT003 was having communication challenges yesterday and the engineers had started to wonder if all the power at the end of the airfield was having an impact!

A Real Blimp Chaser

Recently, a mockumentary about ‘Blimp Chasers’ has been on YouTube. It covers the exploits of a team of blimp chasers who spend their time chasing blimps across the country. Designed as part of a viral marketing effort, it is probably funniest to those who are already in the industry.

Steven Lawson, a super talented former ground crew chief, has been with us for the past week or so, and his library of blimp videos and images is unbelievable. We’re really lucky that he’s been taking pictures of our airship and we’ll share some with you, but here’s where I got to turn the tables!

Footie Ship

The pink football (soccer) nose on NT003.
Germany lost the European Cup Final, in case you hadn't heard....

Well Traveled Truck

This is the mast truck for NT001, the prototype. This Mercedes has traveled all over the world. It took NT002 to Japan and NT001 to Botswana and was stationed in Africa for part of its career. The entire paint job is sandblasted! It has been all across Europe including to Helsinki and now it is on the road with NT004 and will live out its remaining years at a warm airfield in California.

I’m 5ft3, so you can see just how big these mast trucks really are.

Oh Poo....

At least once a year we’re going to have a cleaning party for the airship as the envelope will need to be cleansed of exhaust dirt, old adhesive from brandings and…pigeon poo. Even though the ship has only been in active use for a couple of months, that’s still plenty of time for the birds to get in their target practice. Actually, given how large a target the envelope presents, I’m surprised that the airship is not more covered in bird droppings.

View from the Top

As part of the acceptance procedures for NT004, Matt Kilkerr (our Technical Manager) and myself inspected the airship with a close eye. Riding a cherry picker to view the airship from above, we noted where the man-lines and valves are. The square piece of fabric on top is a test patch of the same fabric as the envelope. On a regular basis, samples are taken from this patch to measure degradation due to UV light, weather etc.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Welcoming Crowd

A small crowd watches the Airship Ventures Zeppelin being bought out of the hangar.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Had to share

Google analytics helps us see what brings people to this blog. This one is definitely one of the more amusing. You see, if someone comes through to the website via a search engine, analytics tracks what the search term was.

In this case, I hope that the searcher eventually got the answer they were looking for. Oh, and the reason they ended up here was because of a piece Brian posted here.

Booth Babes

Airship Ventures had an information booth at Hiller Aviation Museum’s Vertical Challenge this year. Attended by over 5000 people, this annual helicopter show included the Red Bull Helicopter than flies upside down and many other helicopters from the emergency services, military etc. Quite a feast for the ‘rotorhead’.

As the Zeppelin is almost vertical take off and landing, we’ll be bringing her along for a touch and go next year. In the meantime, here’s a shot of Team Airship Ventures manning (personning) the booth, plus a picture of our honorary booth babe, Graf Zeppelin.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wild Brew Yonder

Team Airship Ventures joined in the fun at Hiller Aviation Museum's twilight helicopter show and microbrewfest (it's not all hard work at our company you know...). We need a caption for this picture. What is Jim saying to Dwayne and Thom while Brian looks on in amusement?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Seeking A&P Technicians and Ground Crew

Just this week we have opened up a few new positions at our
careers page.

-- Photos (C) Jim Dexter, Airship Ventures

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wild Brew Yonder -- Coming Friday June 20

Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, California hosts a wonderful airshow called the "Vertical Challenge" each year. Wild Brew Yonder is the amazing pre-show event held the Friday night before. It combines the best our local micro-breweries have to offer with a not-to-be-missed night time helicopter airshow. As our resident helicopter pilot Dwayne would say, "anyone can fly a helicopter upside down... ONCE!". Well, the Red Bull team did it last year, and are coming back for more. Many of the Airship Ventures team will be there. If you attend the show, and recognize one of us, stop by and say "hi!"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More soon, promise

Team Airship Ventures has been busy expanding, training, project planning and dealing with a great deal. We have a large backlog of good blog posts and pictures for you and as a few of us will be on planes to Germany again shortly, then we will have time to polish drafts and post. Yeah, I know, like London buses, you wait and wait and then they all come along at once..!