At 246 feet, it’s a tad longer than the new Airbus A380 and dwarfs the Goodyear Blimp. There are four modern Zeppelin NTs in the world, one retired, one in Japan, one in Germany, and one in San Francisco. The “NT” stands for “New Technology” and is the first modern fleet of zeppelins to carry passengers since the blazing crash of the Hindenburg in 1937.
Covered in a NASA-grade skin, framed with carbon fiber and aluminum, equipped with fly-by-wire vectored-thrust engines, and filled with helium, the modern Zeppelin NT is nothing like the zeppelins of yesteryear. She can take a lightning strike with no problem, hit 78 mph, and spin around on a dime.
San Francisco’s very own Zeppelin NT, the “Eureka,” lives in the massive hanger over at Moffett Field. I see her flying over the bay area almost every day. And the ride aboard is incredible. The cabin is surrounded by massive panoramic windows, with two that open up so you can stick your head out and take pictures galore. The ride is whisper-quiet and unbelievably smooth. The pilot will even take requests, as evidenced when one passenger on our trip shouted “do some donuts” to her. Airship Ventures, the company operating the Zeppelin, also has a pilot-for-a-day program which I plan to do as soon as I have an extra $3k lying around.
Looking forward to a future of zeppelins zipping all around the skies, just like in the good old 1920s and 1930s. Who knows, maybe they’ll build a mooring mast atop the Transamerica Pyramid just like the Empire State Building’s mooring mast of the 1920s: