Today’s local paper had an unexpected article about a Bay Area startup business that could be the ultimate aerial photography platform. While most Bay Area startups are high tech related, this one could actually be considered rebirth of an old tech…the zeppelin. The company I’m talking about is Airship Ventures. As described on their website:
Airship Ventures is bringing a Zeppelin NT airship to the SF Bay Area for daily sight seeing flights, advertising operations, corporate and event occasions and scientific missions. We start operations from Moffett Field, North Oakland and Sonoma County airports in November!
The Zeppelin NT is the new technology design of the famous German zeppelin air ships from early last century. Airship Ventures will be operating the only commercial airship in North America, and the 4th Zeppelin NT to be built. (Let’ hope they bought the roadside assistance…).
When you’re looking to take aerial photographs, I can’t think of a better platform than an Airship. With a top speed of 78 mph and typical cruising speed of 35-40 mph, you have plenty of time to frame and take your shots. And an Airship has much less vibration (and noise) than an airplane or helicopter. The only downside could be the price.
Airship Ventures lists their 1 hour tours starting at $495. They plan on offering service from Moffett Field (near Mountain View, CA), Oakland, and Sonoma County Airport (for tours of wine country). As of now, it looks like are planning on offering regular service from those bases which could account for the higher price tag (they need to assume that they won’t sell out every flight).
Of course, you can also rent the entire gondola (seats 12) for $5,750 for a one hour flight. If you team up with a number of your closest photography friends, it could make for a very interesting hour of tour (of course, considering the gear that most of us brings with for a photo outing, they may need to limit the passengers to 8-10 for weight reasons.
The zepplin is supposed to arrive in the Bay Area on October 25th for a fly over of San Francisco and the Bay Bridge (lucky me, I was already planning on being in San Francisco that day….). Service is slated to begin in November. For the interesting story about how the airship was shipped from Germany to the US, check out Airship Venture’s blog Up Ship!, they have some very interesting photos of the arrival!
I wonder if they would offer a photographer group discount in exchange for some marketing photos? Hmmm…