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Zeppelin

FAQ

I would greatly appreciate it if you would please send changes, corrections, information, and updates to me so that I may keep this section accurate and current. I do not know everything and would appreciate your input.


Where do I go to ride an airship?


Germany
ZEPPELIN

Zeppelin NT

Want to ride in a Zeppelin? Me too! The dream is alive and has taken flight! Book flights via Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei. Zeppelin redefined and redesigned the modern airship. This is the state-of-the-art. Zeppelin NTs have been flying since September 1997.

Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei GmbH
Allmansweilerstrasse 132
D-88046 Friedrichshafen
Deutschland  

Tel: +49 7541 5900-0
Fax: +49 7541 5900-499

E-mail: info@zeppelinflug.de

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Switzerland
SKYCRUISE

SkyCruise Airship

"... since May 14, 2002 ... Skyship 600 N-605SK carries up to 12 passengers from Wednesday to Sunday on five to six flights a day over one of the most beautiful areas of Switzerland. Please find more information and online booking possibilities on http://www.skycruise.ch/ or email us any questions."

Skycruise Switzerland
Tel: +41 52 354 59 70
Fax: +41 52 354 59 71
email: info@skyship.ch

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USA
AIRSHIP VENTURES

Airship Ventures' Zeppelin NT

You can now make reservations for a Zeppelin ride in the San Francisco area! Airship Ventures has brought a Zeppelin NT airship to the SF Bay Area -- for daily sight seeing flights, advertising operations, corporate and event occasions and scientific missions. Operating from Moffett Field, North Oakland and Sonoma County airports since November 2008! Tell them Dziadecki sent you. (They won't know who you're talking about but it sounds impressive.)

Airship Ventures Flight Itineraries.
Airship Ventures Contact Form.

Elsewhere

Rumor has it that you can try begging a ride from various airship crews that fly the advertising blimps. Forget it. Generally these airships are strictly commercial use only so your chances are mostly extremely (less than) slim.

What is an "airship"?

An airship is a self-powered, lighter-than-air craft with means of controlling its flight path.

Who invented the first airship?

Of the hundreds of inventors granted patents for early airship (and airplane) designs and variations, few succeeded in building or flying their craft.

1784 > J.B.M. Meusnier made several suggestions on how to improve the handling and flight characteristics: changing the shape of the balloon from a sphere to the shape of a football in order to reduce air resistance and also establish a front and rear; an envelope made of several compartments and a passenger car shaped like a boat attached to the bottom of the airship.

1852 > Henri Giffard invented the powered navigable airship -- a cigar-shaped balloon 114 feet long and 39 feet in diameter. The airship was powered by a three- horsepower steam engine which could propel it at a speed of approximately 5 mph.

1884 > Charles Renard and Arthur Krebs built the La France airship which featured an electric motor and improved steering capabilities.

1898 > Alberto Santos Dumont (1873-1932) was the first to construct and fly a gasoline-powered airship. On 19 October 1901 he circled the Eiffel Tower winning a 100,000 franc prize.

1900 > Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin's flew the world's first rigid airship, the LZ-1.

1910 > June 22nd, Zeppelin's "Deutschland" became the world's first commercial airship.

1929 > LZ127 "Graf Zeppelin" round-the-world flight.

What's the difference between airships?

There are three principal classifications:

rigid (having an internal framework, such as the USS Akron),

semi-rigid (those having a rigid keel running the envelope length, such as the Norge or Italia or the new Zeppelin NT), and

non-rigid (having no internal framework, such as the present Goodyear fleet -- Eagle, Stars & Stripes, Spirit of Akron).

And, there are hybrids.

In non-rigids, the internal pressure of the lifting gas (non-flammable helium) maintains the shape of the envelope. Internal air compartments -- ballonets -- are inflated or deflated with air to compensate for ambient pressure differences. These airships are commonly referred to as blimps.

What are the characteristics of helium?

"Helium is next to hydrogen in density, being about one-seventh the weight of air. Stated another way, 1,000 cubic feet of hydrogen at 32 degrees [fahrenheit] temperature, at sea level, will lift 75.1 pounds while the same volume of helium will lift 69.6 pounds."

The Story of the Airship by Hugh Allen
6th ed.: Akron -- Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company -- c1931

Helium, a by-product of natural gas production, has a lifting capacity of 1.02 kg/m3 (0.0640 lb/ft3).

Cost: US$50 - US$70/MCF (1000 cubic feet)

Federal Helium Program: The Reaction Over An Inert Gas

Is there a hydrogen faq?

Yes. At the American Hydrogen Association web site. See also, Powerball Technologies.

How do airships fly?

Magic and mirrors? No. Click here.

How do I get an airship pilot's certification?

From what I gather, this is mainly a matter of on-the-job training. Having earned your pilot's license, your best bet is to contact an airship manufacturer and/or operator and tell them you want to be an airship pilot. If accepted, you will enter a training program which will lead to airship certification. Upon attainment of your Alta certification you will then offer me a ride!

Reading material:

AIRSHIP TRAINING (Atlantis 2005) is a compilation of several old LTA Manuals and the weather is generously dealt with.
 
Hugo Eckener's (1919) DELAG Pilot Operation Manual for the BODENSEE appears in the back of Doug Robinson's 1964 book LZ129 HINDENBURG (Arco Publishers, 1964.)  Eckener being something of a "Weather Guru," his has a lot of specifics ("squalls" "before entering a cloud" "Atmospheric Influences and Disturbances" ) with much of the information reconfigured from Eckener's stint as Civilian Director of Airship Pilot Training with the German Navy in World War One.
 
More great reading can be found in RIGID AIRSHIP MANUAL (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1927) in which "Aerology" is extensively covered (there also see mt to be a few pointers that are "lifted" from Eckener's dissertations.) 

Who manufactures and operates airships?

Several companies are actively building airships for sale, while others are building experimental prototypes. Another group of companies lease and operate airships for business clients. For a full list of names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, web links, etc. click here.

How much does it cost to rent a blimp?

It varies depending upon the size of the ship, but expect around US$175,000/mo for a small (130 ft.) ship.

How much does it cost to build a blimp?

Again, it varies depending upon the size of the ship, but expect around US$2,000,000 for a small (130 ft.) ship.

Who paints blimps?

Well, for one, Burt Dodge who uses a special formulation produced in France by International Celomer. The paint is supplied in 2-gallon containers, mixed in a 4-2-l ratio: four parts paint, two parts hardener and one part dilutent.

Where can I find airship plans?

Canada

Canadian Museum of Science and Technology
Within the archives they have a large number of Blue Prints of Airships! (Tangential: R100 in Canada pdf.)

Italy

If you want serious material about Italian airships you should contact:

Centro Documentazione Umberto Nobile
Museo Storico-Aeronautica Militaire
00062 Vigna di Valle, Roma, Italy

USA

A 6ft.-long (2m.) 3-view drawing of the USS AKRON is available from the MAPS Air Museum gift shop for $10 US, including shipping & handling in the US. Write to:

MAPS AIR MUSEUM
5359 Massillon Road
North Canton, OH 44720

Where can I find information about airship hangars?

James R Shock: American Airship Bases & Facilities
Atlantis Productions -- Edgewater, Florida -- 1996: ISBN: 0-9649480-3-6

C. Dean (Editor): Housing the Airship
Architectural Association -- London -- 1989 -- ISBN 870890-11-6

Italy

Hangar Dirigibili di Augusta / Augusta Airship Hangar:
Hangar e il suo Parco / Airship Hangar and its Park
Home to Europe's one reinforced cement airship hangar.

UK

For historical information on the Cardington Sheds:

Airship Heritage Trust
c/o Norman Pritchard
Windsor Loft
75 Albany Road
Old Windsor, Berks. SL4 2QD
UK

Mike Rentell, of the Airship Association may be of help, too. E-mail him at: rentell@airship-association.org. The association keeps track of current airship and related technology in the UK and offers specialist books on the subject.

The Royal Aeronautical Society Library has reference to quite a number of US, UK and German hangar photographs.

Patrick Abbott: Airship: The Story of R-34
2nd ed.: Studley -- Brewin Books -- 1994

Geoffrey Chamberlain: Airships - Cardington
Lavensham -- T. Dalton Publishers -- 1984  

Ian Bunyan: R-34: Twice Across the Atlantic
The National Museums of Scotland -- 1989  

Gordon Kinsey: Pulham Pigs
Lavensham -- T. Dalton Publishers -- 1988  

Midland Publications is a good mail-order source for such aviation books if you do not wish to order them from their individual publishers. See Midland's advertisement in any popular aviation magazine like "Fly Past."

Has an airship ever moored at the Empire State Building?

No mooring ever took place to the Empire State Building -- all those mooring photos are composite images. The whole story is covered in Jim Shock's AMERICAN AIRSHIP BASES AND FACILITIES.

What blimp holds the all-time record for continuous time aloft?

The ZPG blimp at Pensacola is the ZPG-2, BuNo 141561, famous as the "Snowbird" record-setting blimp, aloft for 264.2 hours and 9,448 miles unrefueled under the command of CDR Jack R. Hunt, 04-15 March 1957. -- Eric Brothers

How fast can an airship fly?

The LZ127 & 129 and ZRS4/5 cruised under power at 80+ mph. With a strong tail wind, it is said the LZ129 approached 100 mph in transatlantic crossings.

Where can I find more airship FAQs?

Airship & Blimp Resources

Airship Association

Goodyear

What material held the lifting gas?

In the early 1900s, cattle gut skins. Late in World War One, some of the German Navy "height climbers" even used SILK in place of cotton, to get maximum weight reduction from the use of the skinned cells (and, on occasion, cattle skins were not available and any number of inferior gut was used, as well as rubberized fabric, though this created static electricity and rubber was chronically short in Germany.)

The SHENANDOAH used approximately 500,000 (total) skins to line her gas cells. The GRAF ZEPPELIN used about 800,000 skins and the later gas cells for the LOS ANGELES and GRAF ZEPPELIN, as well as ALL of those of AKRON, MACON, HINDENBURG and LZ130 used NO SKINS AT ALL, as a new process utilizing lightweight cotton fabric impregnated with viscose-latex and (later) gelatin-latex compounds replaced the use of "skin cells."

Is there an LTA professional organization?

The closest thing we have to a professional organization, the LTA section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). The AIAA publishes a wealth of information on materials and systems. No, LTA is not the Institute's main focus, but they have held twelve (count 'em, twelve) professional/academic conferences on LTA Systems Technology over the last two and a half decades. And yes, they do have a Web Site where papers are indexed and the abstracts can be searched:

http://www.aiaa.org/

The 1995 Clearwater conference featured a presentation by Tom Rodriguez on FAA certification; paper number AIAA-95-1607-CP (you can order it online). It included an exhaustive index (2+ pages, double column) of the Airship Design Criteria, FAA Document P-8110-2. This doc can be obtained from the

Small Airplane Directorate (ACE-110)
Aircraft Certification Service
Federal Aviation Administration
601 East 12th Street
Kansas City, MO 64106

Also available is another FAA doc: AC 21.17-1A, "Type Certification -- Airships." This AC can be obtained from the

US Department of Transportation
General Services Section M-443.2
Washington, DC 20590

A the end of his paper, Rodriguez welcomed contact from the LTA community regarding certification. His primary responsibility is structures. His number is 206-227-2779. The paper's co-author, Carla Worthey, whose primary responsibility is as a flight test engineer, can be reached at 404-305-7364.

Both of these numbers are now three years old and may be out of date.

 
This site was created, written and is maintained by John Dziadecki 1995-2009. Images and quotes that are not the author's remain in the copyright of the originator. The information contained in this website is for educational purposes only. Additions and corrections are welcomed! Please send comments, suggestions and possible links to John.Dziadecki@colorado.edu. Last update: 20 December 2008