Up, up in the air

I wouldn’t imagine that there are too many coming across this post who might remember the day – May 6, 1937 – that the short-lived original era of passenger zeppelins came to an end with The Hindenburg Disaster.

But everyone has seen the famous newsreel footage of the fire and crash in Lakehurst, New Jersey along with Herb Morrison’s famous radio report (“Oh, the humanity!”), broadcast after the fact and for years thereafter.

In fact, most of us probably have no reference point for the rigid airships other than the foursome of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones – obviously known as the original supergroup Led Zeppelin – and their debut album cover, featuring the Hindenburg.

Turns out that Count Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin was the first to establish passenger airline travel 100 years ago last month and the concept of selling tickets to fly in a zeppelin is coming back around again.

The Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei has been offering passenger travel in Germany since 2001 (with over 60,000 customers, according to their website) and, here in the States, a newcomer called Airship Ventures is doing the same up and down the California coast.

The Los Angeles Times blogs about the return of the zeppelin to L.A. skies with a piece on Airship Ventures that will make you want to get up in the sky with them and exorcise the images of the Hindenburg forever.

They have actually flown over 5,500 ticketed passengers in their 246-foot zeppelin, called the Eureka, and are adding additional sightseeing rides to their scheduled routes.

The view from inside the Eureka

It looks like an incredible experience, though (not surprisingly) carries a steep price tag.  As an example, $199 gets you just 30 minutes of flight time.  $950 per passenger allows you two hours in the air.

But, hey, if you’re having a small birthday party or wedding – the zeppelin carries up to 13 passengers – and have the $5,500 for the chartered flight, then by all means get yourself up in the Eureka.  How about that for a destination wedding?

So now you can add a zeppelin ride to your “bucket list”.  Grainy newsreel footage and breathless radio broadcast not included.

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~ by acm213 on November 25, 2009.

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