With our celebration of often defunct technology comes the sadness from the death of this technology. Fortunately, most of it is far enough removed, by time or space, that we can easily bury that pain. In many ways, we may not even realize it was ever there as our mind seeks to protect us. Sometimes, though, a wound we never thought we had is re-opened.
I would happily pay a premium to travel via a nicely-equipped luxury dirigible. How friggin’ awesome would that be?
Those words were spoken 6 days ago by our
fearless leader. A premium, he said. And until today, he had his chance.
Airship Ventures operates one of two Zeppelins in service today. The Zeppelin NT, known to Northern California skywatchers as Zeppelin Eureka, and it’s twin produced by ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH are direct descendants of the giant luxury airships that carried passengers across the globe until the late 1930s. You may have heard of one of those, Hindenburg and its ignominious end.
The Zeppelin Eureka uses helium, much like the intention of its pre-war forefathers. Obviously safer, it is also more rare. Apparently, we are experiencing a global helium shortage as schoolchildren continue to inhale the gas so they can sound like Donald Duck. This wanton waste of the precious gas has driven up helium prices. That coupled with a lack of ticket sales is forcing Airship Ventures to close its doors unless they get an investor in the next week or so.
I share Deartháir’s love of the Zeppelin as a mode of transport. There is something elegant about floating through space, the drone of engines behind you, and a cabin that rivals the grand parlours of a bygone era. Until now, that love was unrequited. Now that I know I could have taken a scenic tour of Northern California in this historic fashion I can’t but feel pain.
I wonder why they don’t just use hydrogen or, in a maniacal subplot, dig a well into the National Helium Reserve in Texas and steal it Dr. Evil style.
[Ed. A special thanks to reader and frequent commenter Batshitbox for the tip about the doomed airship. Doomed technology tips are appreciated. Send them to us at tips at atomictoasters dot com.]
[Image Credit: Frederic Larson, The Chronicle / SF]