In the meantime, beginning in November there will be a rigid-frame Zeppelin NT filled with non-flammable helium in the San Francisco area providing scenic tours for the public, operated by Airship Ventures.
For a mere $500 an hour, you will be able to fly out of three airports in the Bay area and cruise along at 35-40 mph checking out the Golden Gate Bridge, sailboats in the bay, and the wine country. Or if you want to propose to your girlfriend in a way that provides a story to tell, rent the whole 12-passenger aircraft for about $6,000 an hour.
The Zeppelin NT has four propellers powered by three engines. Three of the props provide vectored thrust. Here is the way it is described on the company's web site:
Unique in the aviation world, two lateral vectored thrust engines provide flexible flight characteristics. Each engine can be rotated 120° and combined with variable pitch propellers, give the airship unmatched ability to stop, hover, land and climb vertically. At the tail of the ship two propellers work off of one engine with a remarkable engine transmission. Here one propeller provides lateral thrust, similar to a helicopter tail rotor and the other propeller can rotate 120° to provide added hover capabilities or when lifted, provide forward thrust, synchronized with the other two engines.The aircraft is larger than it appears in the photos. It is 246-feet long, compared to a Boeing 747 which is 232-feet long. The Goodyear blimp comes in at 192 feet.
- 35-40 mph: cruising speed
- 78 mph: top speed
- 560 miles: range
- 24 hours: maximum endurance
- 12: passengers
- 4,299 pounds: useful load