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So, this happened today

And I didn’t see it. Someone in the next village over phoned Uncle B to say a Zeppelin was headed this way and he ran out and took this picture. He phoned me and I ran out, too, but it was gone.

It was all over the South of England today. The account tweeted something about promoting motor sports, so I guess that’s what it was doing. You’d think the promotion would work better if they actually told you what they were promoting, but what do I know?

Brits don’t have a happy association with Zeppelins flying overhead (note it actually says “Zeppelin” on the tail fin). But after hopping up and down and shaking sticks at it, they were happy to have driven it off.

There are four Goodyear blimps and this one is Europa. They have a fun website, including a time-lapse of one being built (I love time-lapse photography).

If you want to see this one up close and in color, there you go.


Comment from Mitch
Time: July 1, 2021, 8:13 pm

At some point somebody said “You know what would really sell some tires? Blimps.”

I wonder if there’s actually a technical distinction between zeppelins and blimps. SPEAKING of which – we recently watched a Nova about the most famousest zeppelin of all, the Hindenburg. A couple guys teamed up to take another look to see if they can figure out what happened and they even found a guy who had some old film footage of the tragedy that nobody really looked at before. They came to the conclusion that there was a hydrogen leak near the back and that the stormy weather built up a significant electrical charge on the aluminum skin and when they dropped the lines to the ground it generated enough spark to ignite the gas.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 1, 2021, 8:38 pm

The grand paternal badger witnessed the downing of the first Zeppelin by RFC pilot William Leefe Robinson in 1916.


I remembered that as the damned thing flew over my head and I saw the Zeppelin logo proudly displayed on the tail. They are actually rather sinister – not as quiet as I expected and the thought of some bastard leaning over the edge of the gondola casually dropping Mills bombs onto the people beneath somehow seems more personally, calculatedly wicked than pressing a button in a Lancaster or a Heinkel a few decades later. Rather like the difference between stabbing and shooting, perhaps?

I only remembered my air rifle after the swine had veered off.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: July 1, 2021, 9:23 pm


Now that’s an airship.

40 something or more years ago I saw one of these Goodyear blimp thingies from a distance equipped with a light bulb billboard thingie and basked in the joy of seeing my first UFO.

Bastards, I haven’t seen a UFO since.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: July 1, 2021, 9:37 pm

Comment from Mitch, July 1, 2021, 8:13 pm:
I wonder if there’s actually a technical distinction between zeppelins and blimps.

Zeppelin is the name of a builder of lighter-than-air aircraft: dirigibles, to begin with, and now blimps as well.

A dirigible is an airship with a rigid outside structure. The gas bags (there are several) are inside that outer shell.

A blimp is an airship with a single pressurized gasbag. If it is vented, the whole thing goes limp.

Comment from Mitch
Time: July 1, 2021, 10:20 pm

Ah thanks Rich! Yes, I recall those details now.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: July 1, 2021, 10:56 pm

@Rich Rostrom:

A blimp is an airship with a single pressurized gasbag. If it is vented, the whole thing goes limp.

Not quite. Blimps have a minimum of two gas bags, one containing the lifting gas (let’s hope that’s helium), and the other containing air, and the air bag is called the ballonet.

As the blimp climbs and descends, ambient air pressure changes, so air is released from the air ballonets on the way up, and pumped into them on the way down. Since blimps have no rigid frame (this distinguishes them from Zeppelins), this is how their shape is maintained during flight.

Without releasing ballonet air during a climb, the pressure differential between the inside and outside of the blimp could rupture the skin and the whole thing would go FLUTTER-FLUTTER-FLUTTER-THUD and make everybody aboard very, very unhappy. Briefly.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: July 2, 2021, 12:38 am

I just saw that there’s something I should have added to the above explanation. The air ballonet is inside the lifting gas bag, and the lifting gas bag is the outer skin of the whole shebang except for the hanging gondola for the pilots, passengers, engines, fuel, and any other goodies the blimp has enough lift for. Parachutes, rosary beads, and barf bags perhaps.

Comment from Teej
Time: July 2, 2021, 1:19 am

My dad (who knew everyone in aviation in our state, including the guy who piloted the Enola Gay over Hiroshima—very nice man, btw) got me a ride on one of the Goodyear blimps. Terrifying takeoffs, if you’re used to a normal angle of attack: they pop STRAIGHT UP. Also, getting in the gondola is interesting cause you have to jump for it. The damn thing doesn’t stay still.

Comment from oldowan
Time: July 2, 2021, 1:29 am

I was actually watching this all day (instead of working, of course) on this site: https://www.flightradar24.com/

Comment from dissent555
Time: July 2, 2021, 1:47 am

They had one of these at the AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsina few years back. Impressive vehicles.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: July 2, 2021, 2:40 am

They built a Zeppelin/Dirigible mooring mast on the top of the Empire State building, but it was never used, and may have been sort of a publicity stunt. Still, modified for other uses, there it is. Zeppelin captains gave their opinion of getting passengers OUT of the Zeppelin over the city and into the building, correctly guessing what crossing the ‘bridge’ would entail.

The US played with them intending them to be flying aircraft carriers – the Indiana Jones movie, with the fighter launched from their Zeppelin isn’t a fantasy.


Also of interest for the history buffs, is there are still dirigible hangers in Tustin California –

Seventeen stories high, over 1,000 feet long and 300 feet wide, the hangars were, and still are, two of the largest wooden structures ever built. Designing and building the two structures in 1942, during wartime, on a hyper-accelerated schedule, and with a nearly all-wood design, is what earned the hangars their 1993 listing by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks of the 20th Century.”

Of course Python had a sketch for them:
Zeppelin: It’s not a balloon! You stupid little thick-headed Saxon git! It’s not a balloon! Balloons is for kiddy-winkies. If you want to play with balloons, get outside. (Drags Tirpitz over to the door, opens it and flings him out into the clouds.)
Tirpitz: Aaaaaaaaaghhh!

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: July 2, 2021, 10:38 am

Uncle Al: didn’t know that!

Comment from BJM
Time: July 2, 2021, 6:05 pm

@Durned…Hanger One at Moffett Field in Mt. View (Silicon Valley) is an iconic sight in the SF South Bay as were the P-3C Orions patrolling the US central west coast.

The field and hanger were decommissioned when the Navy left the Bay Area for Washington. Google leased the field for their private jets. Google is renovating the hanger to park their jet fleet…being eco-warriors and all.

Comment from BJM
Time: July 2, 2021, 6:21 pm

Dodgin’ ole Akismet…Hanger One was built to house the Navy’s state-of-the-art LTA’s. The story of the Navy’s last airship, the ill-fated USS Macon’s sinking off the coast of Big Sur.

Comment from ea
Time: July 2, 2021, 6:36 pm

One of these flew pretty low over my house too. Low enough to cause the dogs to freak out. And of course I was at work and didn’t get to see it. I have no idea why it would be out in the middle of nowhere (30 miles from the closest city). I did get to see it from a distance while at work-on the same day. Stupid work always makes me miss the cool stuff!

Comment from Formerly known as Skeptic
Time: July 14, 2021, 4:24 pm

Back in the 80’s I lived in LA and would occasionally see the one based there taking off or landing. Looks terrifying to someone used to heavier-than-air flight. I don’t know if it was particular to the landing zone, but they used to drop the nose and power their way down at what seemed like a 30-40 degree angle!

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