Looking for a way to avoid the tourist crowds in Paris? You might try looking up. Airship Paris is a new company offering tours of the French countryside around Paris by zeppelin.
Tickets range from 250 euro for a half-hour “first flight” tour of the castles around Vexin (including the Villette Castle from “The Da Vinci Code” movie), to 650 euro for a royal tour of Versailles with Paris in the background. Flights take off from the Pontoise airport about 25 miles from Paris. The 250-foot-long airship carries up to 12 passengers and cruises at an altitude equivalent to the Eiffel Tower.
After takeoff, you are free to take in the views from the panoramic windows, sitting or standing. Unlike a hot-air balloon or blimp, the zeppelin is wind-resistant and heavier than air, with a low level of vibration and noise (the company compares it to that of a dishwasher). Airship Paris is the first commercial airship service in the area in 30 years.
Read more and book tickets here.
Every couple of years, someone makes the news with their announcement of a concept airship design that will “revolutionize the way we travel”. This time, the design comes from London based design firm Seymourpowell.
Their concept for airship travel is huge – 870 feet tall. capable of lifting 396 tons and offering penthouse apartments, bars and huge glass floors.
The ship has been named “Aircruise”, and (on paper) it should be able to carry 100 people from London to New York in 37 hours. The idea is that “slow is the new fast”, which is just a cool marketing trick to make you ignore the fact that the trip will take 27 hours more than by plane.
Even though the design is still in its very early stages, Samsung has shown interest in the design, and is working with Seymourpowell on computer aided simulations. My only concern (besides the fear that this thing will never actually be built) is the choice of gas for the lifting bags on the Aircruise – Hydrogen (the same gas that kept the Hindenburg in the air).
Update: Dan Grossman from Airships.net has published a comprehensive article about how the entire “Aircruise” concept is nothing but nonsense. Thanks to Dan for his side of the story and insight into the reality of the airship world.
Check out these other great stories from AOL Travel
On Tuesday, I wrote about Turtle Airships, a company that’s trying to produce a solar-powered amphibious “airship” capable of crossing the Atlantic. While we weren’t exactly flooded with responses over the post, we did get a few concerned comments from members of the Lighter-than-Air community. Yes, there is a whole community dedicated to blimps, zeppelins, and airships, and yes those are all different things (see, we’re learning so much here).
Apparently, there are some airship enthusiasts who aren’t quite convinced that the folks over at Turtle Airships have their heads on straight. Darrell Campbell, CEO and designer of Turtle Airships, would of course, beg to differ. The company’s slapdash website and offer of a free ride to anyone who ponies up $10 for an e-book doesn’t help their credibility, but poor marketing skills and a questionable product don’t necessarily make a company any less sincere.
Some skeptics say that the mechanics behind Campbell’s plan just don’t add up, while more vocal detractors think the whole thing is a ruse to swindle money out of the gullible. Only time will tell if they are right, so you may not want to buy that Transatlantic airship ticket just yet.
First, let’s just get this out of the way: it is not, I repeat not, a blimp. Whew! Okay. . . Turtle Airships (a Spanish company that seems to have some intense aversion to the word “blimp”) is working on an airship that will make the journey from NYC to Paris, powered predominantly by the sun.
The top half of the
blimp airship will be covered in solar panels that will store energy in batteries and use it to power four electric motors. The craft will also have a biodiesel engine as a back-up so the ship can fly in bad weather and at night. It will be able to take off vertically, land on ground or in water, and travel at around 40 miles per hour in ideal weather (making for a very long Transatlantic journey).
The airship is having a bit of difficulty getting off the ground at this point though, due to lack of funds. Turtle Airships is working on a prototype and hoping that as buzz for the project increases, so will the financing. Once the cash comes in, they say they’re ready for lift-off.
Until then, you can indulge your Goodyear fantasies with Airship Ventures, which offers Zeppelin flights from several California cities, ranging from $199 to $600 per person.