Sunday, March 28, 2010

When Men Were Men and Submarines Ran Scared

It was 1943, the turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic

Blimps were in the air and subs were running scared.

Alphonse Grappone, affectionately known as "Airship Al", sent us these pictures of a blimp based depth charge deployment from his days in the Naval LTA program during WW2.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In the air with NBC Bay Area this morning

Watch out for us in our new branded airship as we do a little media

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Out in the Sun

After nearly a month in the hangar, Eureka makes her way out on a beautiful Saturday morning.

(Thanks to Jeremy for the picture!)


For the person who asked what our helium purification unit looks like -- here you go. It is self contained, built to live inside a standardized "small" shipping container, and runs off a generator. To get a sense of the scale, note the door in the center. It can be transported on a trailer as needed, but we tend to keep it in the hangar.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Name that Machine

We had fun with the "name that part" post at the start of the annual.

Today we have a better one...

"Name that Machine"

This machine arrived last night, and is helping us with the next step in the completion of our annual maintainence. Can you guess what it is?

The designer of the device has named it the "Josef Mark II".

That isn't what we are asking... What do you think this machine does? What is the purpose of the device?

Send us your best guess via comment to this blog post!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Engine Runs

Engines have been re-attached, and are undergoing testing today.

Having the fire truck present is a NASA requirement, as the WWII era hangar pre-dates modern fire suppression systems.

(Special thanks to the NASA Ames Fire Department for coming out!)

Uplifting Sentiment

A nice spring day, and we find this uplifting thought on the web...

Kevin Fox: I miss the Airship Ventures zeppelin floating in the sky. Turns out it's in for annual maintenance and will be back next month.

Kevin -- we miss her too. And we're almost done. Look for Eureka to appear for the start of her 3rd season in the skies over San Francisco and LA next week!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Rug Doctor

We're getting close to the end of our annual. Here Markus gives the interior carpet a well deserved cleaning.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Very Large Cigar

Fog-machine fog rolls out of Eureka, during an annual maintenance inspection.

Fill 'er Up!

The crew moves helium storage bag #3 into position and begins to fold the fully deflated bag #2.

The bags empty from the top, and the helium is pumped into Eureka, again at the top, where it pools upward, pushing the heavier air out through her ventral ports.

The giant bags deflate slowly, going through the utterly mind-roasting 'Giant Jellyfish/Space Brain' phase.

And then, as the cloud of helium begins to struggle against the heavy bag, we move in the standard 'Abstract Elephant' phase. What a treat.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

All Bags Empty

All three storage bags are now empty. Next comes the helium delivery to top up.

Support Structure Removal Starts

Now that helium is back in the envelope, we begin the process of removing the support structure, starting with the support tubes. Later on in the process, we will be re-attaching the engines and fins.

Good to the Last Drop

Bag 2 is empty.

Cement Shoes

One storage bag worth of rolling cement shoes (12) lined up and ready for storage.

Jellies in the Hangar

We're most of the way done transferring the helium from the first storage bag back to the ship. You can see the large hose running from the top of the storage bag, to a blower unit (blue box near side of ship) and then into the top of the enveloper. We add the helium at the top, which stays at the top of the ship, pushing air out of access ports at the bottom of the ship as it fills.

At this stage, the storage bag reminds us of the jellies exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Linde -- We Deliver!

While we were able to preserve most of the helium during the inspection process, we will still need to top up. Fortunately for us, our helium supplier, AirGas was able to deliver the required large quantity via this Linde tanker truck.

Refill Starts

Bright and early Thursday morning, and the helium refill begins...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Last Look Inside

Today we removed the service lights and vacuumed the inside of the hull, did a count of the the tools in our three tool boxes and inspected the hull one last time from the inside. We are done with the internal structural inspection and are now ready to refill the hull with the helium stored in the three 2300 cubic meter storage bags. Tomorrow the helium will be pumped from the storage bags into the envelope, next step is to purify the helium and remove the service support structure.

-- Matthew

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Seattle Mooring Mast?

Looking forward to seeing an airship in this picture...

Friday, March 5, 2010

What's In the Box?

Oh nothing much... just a new aft rotor.

Where There's Smoke...

Here, the crew is unpacking the third and final helium storage bag, as Eureka tops off the second, the base of which is beginning to fill out in the left side of the photo.

When all Eureka's salvageable helium (~6,900 cubic meters) has been stowed away in our three helium storage bags, the main difference between blimps and Zeppelins becomes apparent - she's not deflated!

Eureka's internal frame supports her from the inside, while struts and the mast truck hold and support her from below. And, while it normally would balance the ship's weight, there's really no need for all this ballast in such a heavy airship. What's the point of all this work, though? Matt and his team need access to all parts of the the ship for the annual inspection, and that includes the inside of the pressure envelope!

It might look like a fire, but it's actually just a test of our high-capacity smoke machine, used to inspect the hull for leaks. We warned the fire department already, just in case anyone thinks we've lit the place on fire, but

Stay tuned for scenes from inside!

Popping a Wheelie


The Belly Button

Name That View

Fin Pillows

If You Ever Wondered...

... what one Zeppelin-worth of fog machine juice looks like, wonder no more. 32 liters, to be exact.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First Firkin Friday - Tapping the Cask at 5pm

We're having some fun this Friday at the Tied House Brewery in Mountain View after work.

The brewery has invited us to tap the "First Firkin".

Because too much is never enough, we've invited a Bavarian band to come and play too -- The Internationals.

When: Friday March 5th, 5pm
Tied House Brewery and Cafe
954 Villa Street, Mountain View

How much is a Firkin? Ever so helpful, Google informs us it is 40.9148269 liters. I think our merry band can handle that, but we hope to see you come out and help us anyway. There is always the Second Firkin!

BFI fancies a shiny Zeppelin this year

This is part of the poster for the British Film Institute's Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, it is all over the London Underground!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Heavier than Air

As Matthew carries out the annual maintenance procedures, Eureka is drained of helium, and the ship is now supported from the nose by the mast truck, and at six of its frames by posts and beams.

You can see the gray helium drain hose coming from the top off the ship to the bags and blower.

As the helium is drained, it's pumped into three giant helium storage bags. Each bag holds 2,300 cubic meters of helium and, alone, each could fill a MetLife blimp with 8,600 cubic feet of surplus helium!

Eureka holds a total of 7,400 cubic meters of helium, so where does the other 500 cubic meters go? Because the bottom-most helium mixes with air as the envelope slowly drains out the top, the 'dregs' are not worth putting back in and must be vented.

The bags are held down by concrete blocks on castor wheels - each one is 400 lbs!

Up next: Why take out all the helium?