The long-running era of the Goodyear Blimp has finally ended: but it's good news for airship enthusiasts, not bad. Goodyear has decided to replace its famous fleet of inflatable blimps with more sophisticated semi-rigid "Neue Technologie" ships designed by the modern-day German successor to the original Zeppelin company. Using …
I was lucky enough to have a flight on the Goodyear Blimp over Easter (video here: http://youtu.be/7CZG4089VUc ) and have to say blimp travel is unlike anything else I've ever done.
You lucky, lucky, lucky bastard!
they didn't demolish that hangar at Moffet Field, huh?
// no blimp icon available
Goodyear vs. Airships
Every time I think about Goodyear and airships, I'm reminded of a Monty Python skit...
"Our management consultants actually queried the necessity for us to employ a pantomime horse at all."
Did blimp "Neue Technologie" suffer from the "blue sky of death"?
Sightseeing over London?
Count me in... I'd love to do that, or any other city for that matter. More than that, the idea of travel being part of the journey as in the Airships of yore is very appealing.
So if they only sell one a year...
Its a goodyear!
They died because they sucked
Airship uses: Passengers - too slow, especially trans-ocean. Freight - too expensive, low payloads. (One zeppelin = one or two HGV's!).
Generally: too much trouble with weather, unable to reach high altitudes. Cloudbase? Come on, no zep ever got above the clouds!
'Come on, no zep ever got above the clouds!'
Oh yes they did.
During World War I the Germans built so-called 'height climber' Zeppelins to try and fly over British air defences. They routinely bombed from over 6000m being hidden from ground defences by a layer of cloud - as you can imagine, their error margin was something like a county. The altitude record for one of these Zeppelins is over 8000m.
As for the height climbers, they were only able to fly that high by being incredibly fragile, meaning they couldn't manoeuvre well at low altitudes* and they couldn't overcome rapid improvements in aircraft and anti-aircraft guns.
* The British R38 was a copy of a height climber. She broke up and exploded over the Humber during low altitude manoeuvres just after being accepted into the US Navy as the ZR-2.
" Passengers - too slow, especially trans-ocean"
True, but not too slow if you're basically an airborne cruise ship. Wouldn't that be awesome - better still if you sailed across pretty landmasses rather than the relatively-featureless Atlantic.
Considering how much cruise ship tickets go for I'm surprised there isn't anyone looking into developing these for luxury airborne cruises. I guess the PR image of airships must still be bad - even today people are surprised how few people actually died in the Hindenburg disaster.
...the novelty value and the rarity of such a beast, I would imagine tickets for passenger airship cruises similar to those in the golden-age of airship travel would be sold out in a heart-beat. And with new technologies available now even the speed would not be so much of an issue. Sure, faster by regular fixed-wing aircraft, but when the biggest part of the attraction is in the getting there itself, you wouldn't actually want speed.
Re: They died because they sucked
> Airship uses: Passengers - too slow, especially trans-ocean.
The Hindenburg was quite successful on its South Atlantic runs. 3 1/2 days, Frankfurt to Rio. 6,246 miles. 10,052 km.
This is the 21st century, friends
Sure some people might like a serene cruise in an airship. But now we have jets and we can go places in hours when it used to take days. It's the same with the sightseeing role. Sure, some people might pay for the privilege, and you might even turn a profit at it. But it's not the kind of business that the airlines do (thousands of flights a day in the US alone), or the trucking companies, or the shipping lines, or just about anything else you can think of.
You seem to be forgetting their is a very healthy Cruise Ship industry out there. And lets face it their not exactly setting the speed records. The whole point is you take a month of relaxing, touring, and enjoying the sun.
Alternatively there is the great long distance train journeys to compare to. You could fly from Moscow to Vladivostock in a few hours or you can take the train and take 2+ weeks. Same with the Indian Pacific or the Ghan in Aus.
You dont take these journeys for the speed (or the cost! As theyre generally more expensive then flying), you take them for the experience! And flying in a blimp across large swathes of the world is an experience i would love to take one day!
Not just cruises, but residence
There's at least one "floating community owned by its residents", M/S The World -- see http://www.aboardtheworld.com/reside or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_The_World
For those to whom money is no object, an apartment on an airship could be very desirable!
(Well, for those to whom money is absolutely no object, I suppose a personal airborne mansion might be even better.)
A bit confused...
"...but the United States, only source of bulk helium at the time, was understandably reluctant to supply Nazi Germany."
Why should that be?
We're talking 2 years before the start of WWII and 4 years before America was involved. There was no particular ill-feeling towards Germany from the US at the time and there were certainly no trade restrictions in place.
Except for Helium
Back then, Helium was guarded as tight as nuclear materials these days. The US wasn't about to give Nazi Germany something that could be potentially used against the US in the future.
Helium was controlled by the US military as a military resource. There was no open market in its sale, so any exports had to be approved by the military as well as the American government. As a result, almost no helium had been exported from the US by the 1930s.
It's something of a myth that the Americans refused to supply helium to the Hindenberg. When she was being designed in the wake of the R101 catastrophe there was a proposal to use helium as her lifting gas and hydrogen anti-ballast to compensate for fuel consumption. However, she was redesigned at an early stage as an all hydrogen ship for a couple of reasons; helium was hideously expensive and the Germans were reluctant to spend hard currency on obtaining an alternative to cheap domestic hydrogen, and secondly, Zeppelin had never lost a passenger ship to hydrogen fires. When the R101 report was finalised and it was shown the British had built a bad airship, there seemed to be no case for helium.
Zeppelin only formally applied for permission to obtain helium after Hindenburg burned. Hugo Eckener, who headed Zeppelin, personally lobbied Roosevelt for helium supplies to inflate the second Graf Zeppelin and Roosevelt agreed. However, in the meantime (it was now mid 1938), Germany annexed Austria. The US Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, considered Germany a potential threat to the US and blocked the sale of helium. The second Graf was inflated with hydrogen.
This is what I love about theregister forums
Nevermind all the trolling, every now and then you get a gem of high quality information like this one from Mike Richards.
Semi rigid, teehee
Not just that . . .
It says on the side 'Farmers' - if I had farmer's that big I'd see the doctor about them.
The Akron and Macon were both destroyed in storms at sea
That's just careless!
Reliable weather reports.
It's not like a storm over land would have left them intact --- they were giant sitting ducks essentially. They were supposed to be over sea so that's where the storms found them.
And contrary to popular opinion, weather reports have actually become more reliable, so storm avoidance was extra hard.
When I was in college, one of the Goodyear blimps came to film a college (american) football game. THey had landed in a nearby field and tied it down. It was left unattended, and I was able to walk up to it. Because it was just slightly negatively buoyant, I could grab the gondola and lift the blimp off the ground.
@A bit confused
Remember armies are always prepared to fight the previous war.
America had seen Zeppelins bombing London in WWI and didn't want the same thing happening again - the invention of the fighter aeroplane having apparently escaped them.
For the same reason the British are blocking the export of longbows to France - just in case
Note that airships had *no* flight simulators to practice on.
Now try learning to maneuver a 100m long *slightly* floppy structure on the job.
I like airships. Imagine floating along in say the Rockies with the engines off being followed by an Eagle
long *slightly* floppy structure on the job.
Is that why they are called "B-limp"?
Mine the one with the extra balloons in the pocket thank you.
( I could have done Paris but I am a little short at the moment )
What if they put guns on the zepplin?! I hear there's even this new-fangled auto-gun, I think it's called a gatlin gun or some such thing. But even without any guns, it could be used to spy on the enemy's battle fields!
This is revolutionary technology!
Hydrogen Not Proven
There is a school of thought that , whatever happened to the hydrogen eventually, the initial fire was the skin; which was painted with a sealant containing chemicals used in rocket fuel. It's not proven that this was primary cause; it's also not conclusively disproven. There is some disagreement over if the coating formulation was flammable enough. The only thing we do know for sure is that Luftshifbau Zepplin GmbHh must have thought so. After their internal investigation they quietly changed the coating mix.
How will we tell our universe apart from the alternate Fringe-verse?
Saw a Zeppelin NT grounded at Helsinki
A few years back, the Zeppelin NT destined for Japan landed in Helsinki, at the small Malmi airport (the historic Helsinki airport, which nowadays used only for light aircraft). I live nearby and saw it arrive - and then watched it stay grounded for over a month at a corner of the airfield, as the ship's owners tried to arrange permission for continuing the voyage over Russia. They did not succeed, and the ship flew back. I guess it was later shipped to Japan.
I saw it many times, floating just above the ground as I jogged along a track going around the airfield. It seems airships never actually land, they are just tethered close to ground. A majestic craft sadly bogged down by buraucracy, or possibly Russia's national security paranoia.
Oh, the huge manatee!
Remember me on this computer?
Just come back from an Easter trip to München. I finally visited the overflow aircraft wing of the enormous Deutsches (science and technology) Museum at Oberschleißheim (20 mins north on the S-Bahn S1). We had a small picnic on the grass outside the wire and watched the Zepp NT land and be refuelled. It's part of the hideously expensive (700+ euros) city-tour. The museum isn't too bad but a little small.
You heard me
Fortunate for the mayor.
That the Allies didn't appropriate the en-trusted money as war reparations given that after they stopped making the Zeppelins, the company was producing V2 rocket parts (and thus earning themselves a visit by 60 Lancs in mid-1943)
We've seen those numbers before
100 and 101 that is...
Let's hope that N07-100101 isn't as ill-fated as it's R101 namesake.
Does the mayour of Cardington not have a similarly handy fund so that we can bring back the R100.
And, yes, I am related.
In The Light of this news...
It was a real Heartbreaker when Zeppelins fell out of favour as mass transport. Like a Custard Pie in the face, really, and left me with a Black Dog upon me for a long time, as I'd had a Whole Lotta Love for them. Even so, I couldn't help thinking: Your Time Is Gonna Come. And now, just when that belief had almost been Trampled Under Foot forever, You Shook Me with this news. Hot Dog! I can hardly believe it, I thought I must be Dazed And Confused for a moment, but after chewing through Four Sticks of gum I accept that this is no Communication Breakdown. This is a real Celebration Day for Darlene and I, and though our Dancing Days Are Over, I suspect We're Gonna Groove tonight. I look forward immensely to the future, Good Times, Bad Times or whatever may come, and the first Night Flight will be exciting (as long as they don't fly it into The Ocean or a Black Mountain Side, and it doesn't Rock And Roll too much). Will one be Going To California? I'm Gonna Crawl to see one In My Time Of Dying if necessary, or more likely drive out to the airfield in The Rover, even if it's Over The Hills And Far Away - hell, Kashmir wouldn't be too far for me. Anyway, I could Ramble On all day in this fashion, but I expect it's becoming Wearing And Tearing, and I'll get No Quarter if I don't pack it in soon. Good article, Reg. Thank You.
Well played Sir!
Excellent word play.
Have a beer!
Blimps as ASW
I've read several places (including before the Web existed, so it might even be true) that no convoy escorted by a US Navy blimp during WW II suffered any losses to U-boats.
A Lewis Page article that's not some drum banging propaganda piece. Great work - keep it up, mate.
A trip on an airship ranks close to a trip on the space shuttle in my book.
London sightseeing service
Although the article is right and the London service didn't become a permanent feature it did run for a Summer and being one of the luck people to ride on it can say first hand than flying in an airship is 10 shades of awesome.
Personally i'd rather spend a few days in a cabin with a proper bed (even if it's a train-sized bunk bed cabin) than 14 hours flying from Sydney to Los Angeles in cattle class. Being able to walk about without bumping into everyone else, and having decent sized windows to look out of, would be fantastic.
Of course it would be an expensive ticket. Several days worth of food and enough crew to allow them to be well rested for the duration and the hosties to be pleasant the whole flight, etc. Modern in-flight entertainment would do the job for that no worries. And you couldn't pack the passengers in like sardines.
But it would be a great flight. And no jetlag at the other end!