Sunday, May 31, 2009
Jim and I drove this 1968 Mercedes Unimog fire command vehicle down to Moffett on Sunday. Manny was on watch, and gave us a hand checking it out. He has an agricultural unimog back at home.
Aside from going nearly deaf driving down the highway in this spartan vehicle, we enjoyed the waves and smiles that come with driving a fire truck in public.
It carries a Metz pump (built on a volkswagen car engine) in the rear, with hoses and accessories in the side mounted storage areas. The cabin is 3-door, with a bench seat and fold-out desk surface for spreading out maps.
Amazingly, when asking some visitors if they had noticed the truck next to the ship, somehow they had missed it. Big and Red counts for something on the road, but apparantly is not enough to catch attention when sitting in a 1000 foot long hangar next to a Zeppelin!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
It's a big challenge when you own a 32tonne vehicle that is unique, never been imported to the USA before, not based on any truck that is already here, AND happens to be part of the aircraft. No-one is quite sure what to do with it. So Meghan has been helping them figure it all out, by looking for analogs, clauses and possibilities. We've been down a number of dead end paths, but finally we moved from a temporary to permanent registration just before we headed to Long Beach.
People often assume that you are only in 'start up' mode until you start the operations. But when you are constantly breaking new ground and rewriting the rule books, it's a never ending treadmill of forms, meetings and paperwork and I'm sure we'll still be tying up things way past the first anniversary of the airship arrival!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Latest news is that the ship will mast in Salinas for re-ballast (possibly refuel) before heading to Moffett. I'll keep you posted.
(highway 1 is the scenic route up the California coast)
Pilot in command is Katherine, joined by Fritz, with myself as flight
We're expecting to take 8-10 hours for the return trip. A serene
journey past L.A, Malibu, Santa Barbara and then inland for a bit
before returning to the coast again further north.
I've increased the ping frequency for today on our web based tracking
Monday, May 25, 2009
The crew are currently awaiting the return of Eureka's last flight of this trip to Long Beach. Tomorrow she heads home with seven passengers on board and we're all looking forward to welcoming her and our team, back to Moffett!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
In this sequence of photos you can see the unusual event of Carole from Guest Services lending a hand to hold the nose line while Matt (our trainee crew chief) guides the pilot to bring the ship close enough to attach the winch line. The airship is then winched onto the mast with a crewman using the mast head remote control.
Zeppelin crew chief Chris keeps a watchful eye!
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who oversee one of the most populous regions of the U.S., issued a proclamation declaring May 24th as AIRSHIP DAY IN THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES. This proclamation honors the magnificent return of a Zeppelin airship to LA after a near 80-year hiatus. The last Zeppelin to have visited LA being the Graf Zeppelin, back in August of 1929 during it's "Weltfahrt" round the world trip. Supervisor Donald Knabe, whose District encompasses Long Beach and environs, made the presentation to Airship Ventures in an impromptu ceremony at the Eureka passenger terminal.
Friend of AV David Knight petitioned the Board of Supervisors to make the proclamation based on the airship's uniqueness, the historic significance of the LA area visit, and as an acknowledgement of Airship Ventures special accomplishments in bringing a Zeppelin to the United States, and now Los Angeles County (Knight is depicted in the photograph holding the scroll memorializing the proclamation).
We love talking to everyone though. All our potential passengers have a story - the anniversary they want to celebrate, the birthday, the fact that this has been on their 'to do' list for years and they're excited to fly..... It means that every conversation is a pleasure (and long!) even before we get to the booking process! We still have over a hundred inquiries backlogged that we're working through as quickly as we can - while the phone keeps on ringing - so if you're wondering why we haven't called you back yet, it's because we didn't quite anticipate how much Los Angeles would fall in love with us! We're so excited to be going back in July.
The guest services team use a helpdesk software to enable them to keep track of all the requests, inquiries and calls. As it is web based, it allows me to go in and help out - which I did for many hours yesterday. I've added a couple of screen grabs from emails. The first is subtle, but amusing. A couple wishing to book answered our question "date", not with the date they wished to fly but with a simple 'yes'. Most of the people who fly with us are doing so for a special occasion!
The second is a grab from an email from a passenger who flew in Long Beach while on vacation from Nashville, TN. As she resorted to 'shouting' (using caps) then we think she had a good time and it looks like she's set to become a frequent flier. Cool.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The "Science Dude" over at the OC Register (a newspaper in Orange County, California) ran a writing contest this week and has just announced the winner.
The contest was to come up with a 500 word short story, starting with the sentence below:
"Eureka rose out of a thick cloud bank over Laguna Beach. British pilot Katherine turned to her German mentor, Fritz, and said, ..."
The winner definitely played up the British and German heritage of Katherine and Frtiz.
If you have your own thoughts on a good ending, just comment on this blog post.