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(The) Zeppelin Lives!

Courtesy of Airship Ventures

Queue your favorite Jimmy Page riff here. The legendary Zeppelin is still flying, but it’s not the band, it’s the airship. And you can ride it all the way up the coast.

There are just two Zeppelin airships in existence. One is in Germany and the other here in California, called Eureka.

Recognizable to most people is the commercial name it goes by, especially as you see it circle a stadium: The Farmers Airship. The insurance giant sponsors the craft and Bay Area company Airship Ventures owns and operates the two-of-a-kind vessel, which recently completed a trip across the U.S.

Though it still maintains its sports gig, the company is expanding its passenger service and offers both hour-long flights (like the one seen in the video) and trips between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The company hopes to include trips from Orange County’s Great Park beginning sometime next year as well.

But let’s get some things cleared up before we go any further. This Zeppelin is different from the Goodyear Blimp. A blimp is essentially a steerable hot-air balloon while a Zeppelin features a rigid internal structure, making them sturdier than a blimp. Also, the modern Zeppelin (or Zeppelin NT) is a far smaller and far safer airship than the Hindenburg of almost 75 years ago. The Farmers Airship is just 1/3 the size, uses non-flammable helium instead of hydrogen and holds only 12 passengers. That means couples, families or business groups can have a safe and quiet ride.

With the ability to fly in a virtual straight line along the California coast at a top speed of about 40 miles an hour, expect your flight to take as long as the drive north on Interstate 5. But in the gondola, passengers can stretch their legs or walk around to enjoy a 360-degree view and a smooth, steady flight about 1,000 feet above. Breakfast and lunch along with Champagne are served.

One thing to note when making flight plans is that The Farmers Airship, like all airships, is still more sensitive to high wind or stormy weather conditions than planes and that can seriously delay or cancel reservations. The LA to Oakland flights are $1,500. Call 650.969.8100 Ext. 111 or go to farmersairship.com for schedules and reservations.

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