There are just two Zeppelins flying in the world today. You'll see one of them over Chicagoland this weekend.
Today, I went to check out the Farmers Airship, the only commercial passenger airship in the United States. It was manufactured in Germany by the Zeppelin company for about $20 million. Its gondola seats 12 people, with large windows that open - enabling passengers to stick their heads out and let the air blow through their hair at 1,200 feet.
The Zeppelin is operated by Airship Ventures. Company CEO Brian Hall told me how he took he first ride in Europe a few years back. He was hooked and had to bring one to the United States. Today, his company offers the only commercial passenger airship in the country.
Brian was there to make sure I didn't call his baby a "blimp." There's a big difference, you see. A Zeppelin has a rigid internal frame. Accoring to their press materials, "The Farmers Airship's frame is a light, rigid metal and carbon fiber framework that is covered with a synthetic canvas hull, inside of which is helium."
Which brings us to your next question - "Will that thing blow up like the Hidenburg?" Their quick answer - "No." They use non-flammable helium, where the Hidenburg was loaded with Hydrogen. The Farmers Airship carries 300,000 cubic square feet of helium. Compare that to the Hindenburg, which was nearly three times its size, with 7 million cubic feet of flammable gas!
Speaking of helium, the company tells me that are very aware of the finite nature of the gas. So every six weeks or so, they recycle and purify all of the airship's helium. This means they use less, and operate as clean as possible.
The Zeppelin also features a variable pitch engine, giving it the maneuverability of a helicopter. Zeppelin's can hover directly over a stadium without moving, something a blimp can't do. The Zeppelin can also take off and land vertically.
Another perk of the Zeppelin, the engines are located near the back, away from the gondola. That makes a very quiet experience for passengers. Staff told us that you can actually hear police sirens from the ground while you are more than 1,000 feet in the air.
Unfortunately, weather can keep you out of the air, as we found out today. Conditions were much too windy for us to fly. Had we hit the skies, it would have been a very bumpy ride - much like a ship out to a very choppy sea. In other words, say goodbye to your lunch. At least if you have a stomach like mine.
If you'd like to take a ride on the Farmers Airship, they will be out at the DuPage County Airport all weekend. They will also be making a return trip to the area on August 5, 6, and 7. Here are the details on the weekend and pricing....
The Farmers Airship
DuPage Airport, West Chicago, IL
45 Minute Tours - $375/person plus tax
1 Hour Tours - $495/person plus tax
2 Hour Downtown Chicago Sunset Tour - $950/person plus tax
Call 650-969-8100 x 111 to book
Or email email@example.com
FarmersAirship.com for more information
World's Largest Zeppelin: The Farmers Airship Makes A Stop In Chicago
You can take a ride of a lifetime this weekend
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