Zeppelin Starts Passenger Flights Over Bay Area

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Airship Ventures is now up and running with its German-built Zeppelin, offering sightseeing flights to the general public in an airship, the first time such flights have been available in the U.S. in about seven decades. The company started media flights this week from Moffett Field, just south of San Francisco, and will start passenger operations on Friday. The ship will also fly from Oakland International Airport and from Charles Schulz Airport in the Sonoma Valley. The Zeppelin is almost 250 feet long. Large windows offer a 360-degree view, and the cabin seats up to 12 passengers, who are free to move around during the flight. The airship flies low and slow, topping out at about 1,200 feet AGL and 35 to 40 mph. Hour-long tours run about $500 per seat. The ship can also be chartered by the hour.

The company may fly the ship to EAA AirVenture or the Albuquerque balloon festival next year, if a sponsor steps up with funding. Airship Ventures' future business plans include the addition of a second Zeppelin airship, to be based on the U.S. east coast, followed by a third Zeppelin devoted to air shows, special events and scientific research missions. The company will also expand its facilities at Moffett Field, offering facilities for catered corporate and special events.