Z-Day 2

So here is my long-delayed post on the Leviathan-researching Zeppelin ride.

To ride a Zeppelin, one must travel to Friedrichshafen, Germany. That’s the very town where Count Ferdinand Zeppelin set up shop about 100 years ago, having decided to blow his retirement fund on building giant airships full of hydrogen. (Coincidentally, this is what I plan to do with my retirement fund.) As you saw from two posts ago, this town is Zeppelin-themed to the max. The museum there is amazing, and I took loads of photos for the artist I’m working with on Leviathan, but let’s skip that and go straight to the Zeppelin ride.

The day started with a wake-up call from Zeppelin HQ. The weather was crappy, so they’d canceled our flight (heart stops in chest) but were putting us on an earlier one (heart restarts).

We only had a few hours to have breakfast and attack the Zeppelin Museum before showing up at the airfield.

Of course, the moment our taxi came within sight of the hangar, I started geeking out, and thus many photos were taken:

This hangar is big, by the way. The Zeppelin itself is 75 meters (240 feet) long. That’s less than a third of old-school Zeps like the Hindenburg or Graf Zeppelin, but the hangar is still an impressive sight.

As we drew nearer, every little sign made me happy:

Zeppelin Fluge! I’m about to fluge in a frickin’ Zeppelin!

The place where you wait for your flight is a sort of tent-like temp building with a cafe inside:

It was far superior to the average airport lounge, I assure you. For one thing, the outside cafe had a view of the giant doors of the Zeppelin hangar:

Perhaps I will move ahead, skipping past the next roughly twelve hundred photos to the part where we see the actual ZEPPELIN.

But first: they gave us a quick wave of a metal-detecting wand for regulations’ sake. (You know, in case one of us were to hijack the Zeppelin with, say, our fingernail clippers and fly it—oh, so slowly—into a crowd of innocent people where its deadly load of the dreaded element helium would make them all talk funny . . . um, you get the idea.) Then we had a quick run-down on safety procedures; as the only English speakers, Justine and I had a private session.

Finally, we were taken out onto the airfield to await the return of the airship from its previous flight . . .

Wait! Look!

Yes, that’s it. Circling around to land straight into the wind. (And no, those cranes are not Zeppelin-related. They just made a nice composition.)

In this next shot you can see how small the gondola is compared to the rest of the ship. That’s the thing about Zeppelins: it takes lots of helium, or hydrogen, to lift one person. So, yes, those kids’ books in which handfuls of toy balloons lift people off their feet? Damnable lies!

This 75-meter Zep carries only 12 people—plus the flight gear, engines, and fuel, of course.

As it comes in quite close, check out the tilt rotors on the side. Those two engines (and two more at the rear) can angle in whatever direction the pilot wants.

Here, as you can see, they’re tilted up to slow the airship’s descent:

Then the airship “landed,” sort of. Being aerostatic (the same density as the air around it) a Zeppelin never really settles on the ground. It just bounces to a stop on its single wheel, balancing there and pirouetting with the wind like some graceful, ballet-loving whale.

To keep it steady, one guy holds a rope hanging from its front end.

(Yes, that’s a really short movie. But I’m in a hotel room where the internets are slow.)

At this point, they asked me to please put my camera away and maybe pay attention, because we were about to board. Switching out passengers is a bit tricky, because you have to keep the airship aerostatic. So the de-Zepping passengers can’t just walk off all at once. For every two people who get off, two have to get on, keeping the weight the same throughout the procedure.

So no more pictures for, like, sixty seconds, until we were aboard.

Here’s what it looks like from the inside:

I’m in the last row, so that’s about everyone: ten passengers and two flight crew. (The woman standing was both tour guide and co-pilot.) Every seat is an aisle and a window seat, and those windows are huge. Basically, you’re flying in a big wrap-around picture window, which bubbles out so you can look straight down if you want to:

By the way, we’re flying over Lake Constance, between Germany and Switzerland.

Here’s the Zeppelin’s flight control panel, covered with what are technically known as das blinken-lightz:

Love that little Zep silhouette at the bottom. This control panel would totally pass muster in a James Bond movie.

Okay, so I have to pause in the blogging now. I’ll be showing you more of this flight later, revealing the many wonders seen from the air (not to mention the cool landing protocols). But uploading all this stuff on hotel wi-fi is, like, a total waste of Paris-time.

So one more aerial vista, and I’m out of here:

Beautiful, yes? But rest assured, the best is yet to come . . .

175 thoughts on “Z-Day 2

  1. Nice poem Bran-la, I hope everything works out.
    I’m having a crappy, life is a bottemless pit of nothingness, sucks out every last bit of hope and happiness, kinda week. Not fun. But yeah, theraputic poetry helps bunches. I wrote this, about a little of what’s going on:
    I knew a hero once,
    I looked up to him,
    like he was the north star guiding my way,
    He was my role model,
    A person I loved and cared for,
    a person that I wanted to be like,
    I admired him so.
    The day that he left, to go overseas,
    I cried many tears, more than I thought possible,
    I hugged him and never wanted to let go.
    But I had to, I had to say goodbye,
    though I swore it wouldn’t be the last.
    I prayed that he would come back to us,
    safe and unharmed at all,
    my wishes came true, and I cried again.
    Though this time, tears of joy.
    Safe, at home, my hero once again.
    I noticed no difference, I made sure I noticed none.
    I couldn’t let anything happen to the one leading the way, the one…
    But now….now my hero has been led astray.
    No, not led, he walked off the path,
    but I was wrong, not now had it happened,
    but long in the past.
    My hero hasn’t been the person that I thought I knew,
    not, not at all. I cry yet again for my hero no more,
    I cry for his sins, deeds that I thought he was incapable
    of committing, because that’s not who he is,
    He’s my hero. He’s my hero. He’s my hero.
    Maybe if I say it enough it will be true.
    He could never do this, I know him.
    Please make it true.
    But no, only he my hero of the past could make that true, true again.
    I never knew who he was. Never really.
    Yet, I love him still, though I hate what he has become.
    He’s my hero.
    He was my hero.
    I miss him, no longer I know the person that takes his face,
    his heart isn’t as it was, I don’t know who he is now.
    I want to help him, I need to help him.
    I need him to be my hero again, for real this time.
    But maybe….first I have to be his…
    It’s kinda long….tell me how it is?

  2. Yep so there it is…oh and yeah I can type without looking at the keyboard, but that’s cuz my school has classes on that, that I’ve been taking since like second grade. And poetry doesn’t always have to rhyme, it just has to express a feeling, and if you want it to have like a rhythm you can use rhyme, alliteration, repitition, and lots of stuff like that….I write poetry, frequently. Can you tell?

  3. Cool i’m going to start a blog about anime and Drawing manga and anime shows like Bleach Vampier Knight and Naruto Its going to be called the two crazy girls making a flipen Blog I’m reading maximumm ride The third onr they are SOOOOOOOOOOO good but scott thanks for the idea of a blog I’ll post a comment when the sites up I would like Peole to go to it when it’s done thanks 🙂 Oh and I’m writing a book About a were wolf who has not pack and has a super confusing love life were evrey person will hate the girl he likes Its called Metalic Eye any other names that are good post them scott blogs are sooooo awsome I bet its lots of fun once again thank for the idea

  4. Hey Scott-la! 🙂

    I’m so excited for your new book! And the Uglies guide is making me happy! I can’t wait for it to come out!! You’re the best!!


  5. i can type really fast w/o looking at the keyboard. heehee at school last year we took typing things and kids in my row were like “wow is that u?” so ya

  6. okay, i haven’t been on here in a while.
    random points.

    WHY DO ALL OTHER STATES LET YOU GET YOUR PERMIT AT 15? because if mine did, i’d be that much closer to bumming rides off my friends. you can’t get yours til you’re 16 here. liscense at 17. and i’ve got a late birthday.

    i love the Abhorsen Trilogy. can’t wait for those other books he’s writing in that world. i’m rereading it at the moment too, as a matter of fact.

    i type way fast. and i can do it without looking.
    i really creep my dad out in fact, i’ll be typing fast and turn and talk to him without looking at the screen or keyboard and keep typing at crazy-speed.
    this is what spending whole summers writing does to you.

    also, awwww T&Z-la. hope crap gets less…crappy. but hey! poetry! it’s fun and therapeutic!

    hooray for werewolves!
    i need more werewolf stories. seriously.

  7. My state has the 15-permit-16-license law. Whoop-ee for me! But not so much whoop-whoop for u Serafina…….

    Guess what i’m doing right now? Math homework. and before you get all jeleaous and wish you were here doing my pre-algebra for me……just rember that i will share. Gladly. sharing is caring! (i hate it when people tell me that! i mean i hate sharing. if its mine….im not givin it to u to have or borrow. So yeah….i dont care!)

    So. Scott. when you gonna post some more?!?!?!

  8. im the same as serifina, permit 16 license 17. it stinks!!!! 🙁 but i only have a few more years till i get mine!

    have any boys read the Uglies trilogy???? sorry just wondering cause i wanna prove to boys in my class that they’re not books for only girls. am i rite, or am i rite. ok well maybe they are a little bit more something girls would enjoy reading, but they are written by a guy so they are also boy books.

    when does ur school let out???? mine lets out on the 15th.

  9. Yeah, I saw a couple of the only non-illiterate guys at my school reading them…and thanks, it is a bit less craptastic lately, a lot better…and yes, poetry is awesome.

  10. good thing there were no
    bombs on board
    (Germany dropped bombs on innocent
    people in France(ww1))

  11. Okay.

    So there were just people in that zepplin like, “Oh, look, it’s the guy who wrote the best series in the world.”

    Did any of them come up to you and say, like, “Aren’t you the dude who wrote Uglies?”

    Or did they just ignore you?

    For the record, I’d annoy you with so many Midnighters questions you would want to take me down and slap me relentlessly.

    …Just for the record, of course.

  12. When your finnished with that book, write another Uglies book.
    Will Aya go to Tally’s city?
    What happened to Dr. Cable’s Lab?
    Could someone skeak in and use her machines to become special?
    And where was David’s dad buried?
    How do we know he’s not alive?

  13. 🙂 😀 🙂 😉 🙂 😀 🙂 😉 🙂 😀 🙂 😉 🙂 😀 🙂 😉 🙂
    TO SCOTT: that is so so awesome! i WISH i could ride in a zeppelin… but – you were wrong.

    it IS possible for a little kid to be lifted off the ground by a nuch of balloons. Granted, it’s a really really big bunch of ballooon, but Mythbusters proved it! they had some little girl hold onto a huge bunch of balloons (somewhere in the high thousands) and she actually lifted off the ground pretty far.

    so there. 😀

  14. oh,It is funny and very cool!
    ” (The woman standing was both tour guide and co-pilot.) Every seat is an aisle and a window seat, and those windows are huge” –very good!

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