Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

#GeekShip: Geeks On An Airship - Don't Call It A Blimp!

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 28, 2011

Thursday I spent a very pleasurable day with a great group of people, many of whom I've known for years, such as: Jeremiah Owyang, Kristie Wells, Shel Holtz, Ross Mayfield, Ben Metcalfe, and Chris Saad.

We were part of a larger group of geeks, bloggers, and marketers helping Airship Ventures come up with a marketing plan in exchange for a ride in one of its $16 million airships built by Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik in Germany. (Photo above shows us brainstorming - (I hate the word "ideating" and "ideation."))

Please make sure not to call an airship a "blimp," which doesn't have a rigid frame and requires dozens of people to hold it on the ground. You can call it a dirigible or a Zeppelin (brand name).

Here's a few other things we learned:

- The airships are piloted by qualified airplane pilots with additional training for airships.
- It's lighter than air due to helium -- no hydrogen is used.
- The airship passengers report their weight then a water ballast is adjusted to rebalance it and let it float.
- Each airship holds 12 passengers plus one pilot and a stewardess.
- You can walk around the cabin, open windows and stick your head out (see photo below).
- It has vertical lift off and landing, it cruises at around 1,000 feet.

Here's a few things I suggested for marketing and promotional purposes, some a little are tongue-in-cheek but cheekiness often works ;)

- In response to stressing the safety of the airship I proposed inviting a cigar club on board, letting them light up and videoing the trip.

- Create a video of the flight experience and calling it "Our In-Flight Movie."

- Asking Jenny Craig to be a sponsor - "Become lighter than air."

- Use alumni of the flights to distribute discounts to others, engaging the community.

- Invite camera clubs on late afternoon shoots.

On the bus we were discussing maybe approaching Salesforce.com, and renaming the airship "CloudShip" and putting Marc Benioff's face on the back of it. You'd see Mr Benioff floating around San Francisco Bay Area all the time.

The 45 minute trip was a lot of fun, here are some photos I took with my old 3GS. We took off from Moffett Field, and flew over Stanford University, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook.

I had a great chat with our pilot Kate Broad - the only woman airship pilot.

Also on the trip:
Eneken Mayfield, Clara Shih, Daniel Brusilovsky, Francine Hardaway, Josh Elman, Kenny Lauer organizer), Marcus Nelson, Violet Blue, Bob Christopher, Michael Wu, Kevin Zellmer, Esther Lim, Tatyana Kanzaveli.

Violet Blue and Ben Metcalfe make their way to the boarding steps.

Chris Saad looks back.

Jeremiah Owyang and Ben Metcalfe.

Kenny Lauer sticks his camera out the window.

Clara Shih by the open window.

Katherine Broad - the only female airship pilot.

Violet Blue.

The next Facebook campus - Sun Microsystems' old site.

The colorful salt pans of the San Francisco Bay - the color comes from algae.

Pac-man characters made from salt.


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