The airship Eureka is one of three modern airships, and the only one operating in North America. Built in Germany by the Zeppelin NT corp. NT stands for new technology. It is the flagship of a budding Lighter than air (LTA) industry. This is the story of how I got to meet the owner of the airship and take a ride on the Eureka.
I'm currently studing industrial design at the Art Institute of Portland. I am working on a lighter than air unmanned aerial vehicle for my senior project. I hope to design airships after I graduate.
My experience with aviation and airships
My interest in LTA’s began when I was stationed at Moffett Field in San Jose, CA. in 1991. I had never heard of the USS Macon, or knew that the Navy ever had a flying aircraft carrier. My navy training school was in Hangar One, which was the home of the USS Macon the last ridged framed American built Airship. It is hard for the modern person to really grasp the size of these craft. The Macon and her sister ship the USS Akron were almost 800 feet in length almost three football fields long. The aircraft I was trained to be an aircrewmen on was a P3C Orion, not airship. Every day I went to inside buildings inside of the hangar and wondered why aren’t we using airships for kind of mission the P3 does, long range patrol. For almost eight years I had put dreams of airships out of mind, as I built my career as an in-flight photographer. An injury in March of 1999 ended my days of flying with the Navy.
While regrouping and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with this new opportunity that life had presented me with; I had a very lucid dream, an epiphany about a portrait that used to hang in the Head Quarters building of Moffett field of Admiral Moffett. I had remembered seeing it while checking into the base. The stoic look on his face to me read; “Airships are the future I’m certain of that, my boy.” I knew that I was dreaming and that I was back in the entry hall of the Quarter Deck building on Moffett field with Admirals Moffett’s portrait in it. I saw the painting again but this time his face did not look stoic in fact the image of the Airships behind him was gone and he looked frightened. And then he spoke to me and said; ““Don’t let airships die boy; there are the world’s only hope!” My epiphany was that airships will save humanity, how exactly I’m not sure. I woke up in a cold sweat and started drawing. Since then I’ve studied airships as a hobby, and followed what has become a growth industry that is based on this antiquated technology, that is finding new life in modern materials.
I’m a member of the Airship Association, a group of professionals that have a discussion group on “linked-in” and I get involved with discussions about airship with this group and I tweet about news and current events on airships and LTA’s.
An email and a couple of texts.
I received an email on August 20th:
Brian Hall to me
We haven't met, but I follow your airship group postings on LinkedIn.
We happen to have the airship in Salem at the moment, headed for Seattle on Monday.
If you'd like to meet up for a brief coffee at the airfield sometime this weekend and talk airships, let me know.
James Yarger to Brian
That would be awesome! I could drive down tomorrow.
Sent from my iPhone
Brian Hall to me
Today is a good day. I see tomorrow chances of rain -- will have to talk to the pilots about that!
You can text me on xxx xxx xxxx. How about yourself?
No promises, but I can put you on standby for a flight. There are only a handful of seats left for today. Your best shot would be the 12:35 (which would mean you'd need to be at our check-in location at an FBO on the field by 11:30). Let me know ASAP if you could be here by then, and I can double check at that time.
The the rest is a couple txt'ed and then the pictures and videos begin, Brian Hall is the owner of Airship Ventures and the airship Eureka.
In early 2011 Lockheed Martin and HAV (Hybrid Air Vehicles) will be conducting inflation test of their new LTA at the hangar in Tillamook, Oregon stay tuned!