New Spin On Zeppelin Tours -- Piloting Yours

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Airship Ventures, the group offering zeppelin tours of San Francisco Bay, Moffett Field and the Monterey Coast, is now offering full- and half-day piloting experiences to private-pilot-rated individuals holding a current medical certificate. The company is charging $2950 per student-slot for the honor (sightseeing flights range from about $200 to $750). For pilot "training" the session includes a half day of training to cover ground and flight operations, limitations and performance, and systems, as well as airship history and terminology. A next half-day flight session offers students (taken aloft six at a time) 30 minutes at the controls including climbs, descents, turns and "hovering." Students also get to try their hand at "two takeoffs and landings." The pilot training course takes place in the Zeppelin Eureka and, according to Airship Ventures, "is the only one like it in the world." Currently, the company lists only two separate training program sessions amidst its other operations that, aside from sightseeing tours, include a photo safari.

Training flight options are scheduled for Aug. 24 and 25 at Moffett Field and Los Angeles, from Long Beach airport, Sept. 3 and 4. For more information on the pilot training programs -- and a virtual 360-degree tour of the airship's cockpit and cabin, visit the company's Web site.