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'Return of the Zeppelin' - a Video EssayJerry Freeman Salem-News.com
"What's unique is that this is very much flight by feel, not flight by numbers. You know a lot of airplanes you do everything in a set time, in a set way, at a set speed, in a set place; this is very much fly by feel." - Katharine Board, Zeppelin Pilot
(SALEM, Ore.) - A long time has passed since Americans witnessed the flight of a zeppelin; an airship that uses an inner superstructure for support inside of an 'envelope'. A rare chance exists in Oregon for enthusiasts to actually ride aboard a zeppelin, in fact it is the largest such craft in the entire world.
Most people have seen the Goodyear Blimp and similar airships, but nobody in the United States has seen a zeppelin since a fiery night in 1937 when the German zeppelin 'The Hindenburg' exploded in flames in front of a crowd of horrified people.
Recent research has proven that a flammable coating applied to the outside of the Hindenburg caused it to burst into flames; it wasn't sabotaged and the actual design of the airship had nothing to do with the disaster.
Rachel Loya is the Marketing Manager for Airship Ventures.
"Today the Farmer's Airship, the Zeppelin 'Eureka', is coming into Salem. The largest zeppelin on the planet; one of only two zeppelins flying anywhere on Earth. Some people are familiar with a blimp... It's essentially an envelope full of gas that is pressurized. Our zeppelin has a superstructure on the inside, so inside of that envelope is actually a frame. The big thing about that, which makes a difference to folks in Salem, is that it means we can put the engines up on the sides, which means we have a nice smooth, quiet ride."
Alexandra Hall, Co-owner of Zeppelin 'Eureka', said:
"We decided, my husband and I, that we needed to bring zeppelins back to America. Traveling in an airship is one of the most amazing things you will ever do. It's getting a bird's-eye view of the world around you, while sitting in your favorite armchair."
Jerry Freeman asked: "How did you get into this?"
Katharine Board, a Pilot of the Zeppelin 'Eureka', replied:
"Pure chance, right place, right time; I worked on airships and again that was right place, right time. I just got into it and loved it, and never managed to get out. And of course - when they contacted me about this one - they had me at the word 'zeppelin'. I didn't tell them that, but they just had me at the word zeppelin."
Jerry Freeman asked: "And your boss says you started out as a ground crewman, and basically fought your way into the pilot's seat?"
Katharine Board replied, "Yeah, I always wanted to be a pilot, but obviously this is very much a team activity. I'm completely useless... without the ground crew, I'm about as useful as a chocolate teapot. And ditto without the mechanics and the guest services... We are so much a team. No one of us can do what we do without the other, so it is a really really good way to start; to start out as ground crew, and I did that for almost a year, and it is good to have that thorough understanding from the ground up. I stayed there, figured my best form of attack was to just never go away; that was very difficult for me.
Alexandra Hall explained, "My husband flew on a zeppelin in Germany and decided that we need to bring these back to America and that is no mean feat, considering the last passenger zeppelin didn't end so well and that was in 1937. So, we've had quite a lot of regulations to deal with and lots of things to figure out, like 'where do we park it?' But in October 2008, this wonderful 'Eureka', the world's largest zeppelin, landed at Moffett Field south of the Bay Area in California, and we've been flying thousands over wonderful sites and cities ever since.
Katharine Board said of the actual piloting role, "What's unique is that this is very much flight by feel, not flight by numbers. You know a lot of airplanes you do everything in a set time, in a set way, at a set speed, in a set place; this is very much flying by feel."
Rachel Loya says people can visit their Website, AirShipVentures.com to arrange and book a flight.
"We are based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and are headed up to Seattle, to do some oceanographic research - studying the orcas off the coast up there. So along the way, we are stopping to provide passenger tours and let everyone have a chance to fly on the world's largest airship."
The video essay below has an uploaded caption transcript and is available to view in several languages. This is a new feature from YouTube.
WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW:
Produced by Tim King
Jerry Freeman is part of a new generation of dedicated news photographers who are entering the Internet news industry as a second career. He shares in common with many people the dream of becoming a visual journalist. Joining the Navy at an early age, and the Oregon Army Guard a few years later, Jerry has a wide range of life experiences. He describes himself as “an old truck driver with a new found passion to bare witness on the world’s events.” Teaming up with Salem-News.com he embarks on a new career as a video news photographer and reporter. Stay tuned, and see how it turns out. Jerry seems to exhibit natural talent and is already becoming a published member of the Salem-News.com team. You can send Jerry Freeman an email at this address: Salem-News@gravityshadow.com
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