Airship Ventures: Sightseeing

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Tom Otley 21 Oct 2017
at 00:19

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  • Anonymous


    The Farmers Airship is an interesting venture; perhaps surprisingly, there aren’t too many commercially available airship services operating, but Airship Ventures operate their Eureka ship for sightseeing tours, primarily based around San Francisco and Southern California.

    There is however a tour around the US during the summer which may be handy for some, though the prices aren’t inexpensive being several hundreds of dollars per brief trip.

    I’ve wanted to travel on one for some time, but missed the opportunity when a similar ship came to London a few years ago.

    Though not especially practical for business travel over long distances, it would be an ideal venue for Corporate Entertaining; similar to the London Eye you are able to corral your customers in an uninterrupted private space, and enjoy a memorable shared experience.

    I hadn’t heard much about this and thought some of the US readership might be interested.

    Doesn’t seem to be much groundswell in support of widely available commercial use of airships, alas.


    There used to be sight seeing service locally which covered part of the M25 but not seen for years. In UK I can see limitations with weather (cloud ceiling and visibility) and a lot of what is called Class B airspace in US (not sure what British term is) but it means controlled airspace. I would have thought it was perfect for large areas of Southern Europe and USA. Do not know what economics are. The only really frequent use of airships I have seen is at Football games (US) when they run advertisements on the side and I believe some networks still put cameras on them though this is used for bumpers now as we have aerial cameras in stadia for plays.

    Tom Otley

    Me too, ever since reading

    The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed

    by the wonderful writer John McPhee.

    There are, however, still concerns about safety, such as the latest tragedy this summer in Germany



    UK controlled airspace tends to be class A or class D.

    The base of class A (including airways) is often rather low in the South east and ATC might not be happy to clear slow flights into the area under S(pecial)VFR (assuming that they are under visual and not instrumet rules.)

    But class D should be reasonably accessible, I would have thought, this include the Stansted and Luton zones.


    The only obvious route where this might be commercially viable in the UK would, possibly, be Gatwick-Heathrow, which goes to a discussion we had previously on the Forum:

    I wonder how long that flight would take by airship?

    But as Disgusted says, it is very busy airspace and the consequences of a loss of power, uncontrolled drifting or collision don’t bear thinking about.

    It would at least address the noise issues for local residents, which did seem to be the primary objection to the previous Helicopter Shuttle, though as previously stated the completion of the M25 seemed to be the main reason for its withdrawal. Perhaps that’s a less compelling argument with the traffic these days?


    Nice idea, I would opt for a small prop puddlejumper instead. I guess also we have to live with the possibility of terrorism and this would limit overfly zones given how low the craft flies…


    If an airship ran between LHR and LGW, my ‘fag packet’ estimation says it would take about 45 minutes.

    Given the additional loading/unloading time, I wonder if it would offer an advantage over the road, at most times of day.

    What is really needed is decent rail link, like the RER from CDG to ORY (peferably without the need to change from RER to OrlyVAL.)

    The journey time would be, I guess, around 20 minutes on a new line. I wonder if one could route a train using existing track, in less than an hour, that might still be attractive, given the potential unreliability of the M25.


    Great Western/ Heathrow Express to West London Line to Clapham Junctio connection onto Brighton line. All track in place, all electrified as Eurostars used to use to acces train sheds. Slower speeds on West London line and Brighton line is not that rapid. Non stop or 1 stop at Clapham Junction perhaps. But not a priority! Maybe 40 mins.


    Actually Rich it is not quite that simple as there would be issues getting from the Kensington route at Shepherds Bush and or Willesden Junction. Whilst there may be lines that look as though they could be used, some of these are carriage sidings. Although having said that it is do able but priority, no way.


    I think the novelty of airship commercial transportation would soon wear off. I have had two airship flights and the motion is extremely sick-making…the gentle wallowing through to unpleasant turbulence soon unparks the lunch! Even the seasoned flight crew suffer. I gather this was a noted problem in the ’30s on the ‘big’ ones. It was glamorous for the photographs, but the sound and smell of people constantly emptying their stomachs was rather off-putting.


    I hadn’t considered that; could explain why the sightseeing trips are so short!

    Was this a while ago; as with cruise ships, motion compensators can now all but eliminate roll. I would imagine this is also the case for airships?

    Having a silent, lanside transit from LGW to LHR and perhaps onwards to the Battersea Heliport would be an innovative idea.

    Handy also for policing.


    NTarrant, my comments ont eh route existing were based on a journey in the 1990’s when I was on a cross country service from Brimingham to Brighton and we were routed via Reading due to overhead wires issues at Rugby. It is quite possible that tracks have been lifted or re-assigned. I thought I read somehwere that the Eurostar depot at one time was near old oak common as well but not sure. Either way we agree not seen as priority.


    “Having a silent, lanside transit from LGW to LHR and perhaps onwards to the Battersea Heliport would be an innovative idea.”

    Bad idea. (a) airships are noisy, (b) too slow, (c) prone to difficulty near ground in high winds and (d) how wold you accomodate an airship at Battersea elioprt?

    “Handy also for policing.”

    Good idea.


    “Handy for policing” – indeed, they certainly blend in nicely!

    Airships are useful for 2 things:

    1. Advertisement

    2. Camera stand for sports events

    Gatwick to Heathrow – needs a dedicated train service.

    As for safety, yep, indeed they have a good record. I would chance my luck more on the Titanic!

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